The Mammoth Steppe

The Mammoth Steppe was the classic ice age landscape. It was a landscape without snow. The trees could simply not handle the combination of cold and drought. The ice age climate was parched because cold air contains less moisture than hot air. A few trees were scattered along lakes and streams but otherwise grasses and flowers dominated. On the Mammoth Steppe there were a myriad of flowers, which today you only find near the North Pole, on hill slopes, or in the driest landscapes of Asia. Back then they all lived side by side.

The Mammoth Steppe reached from Western Europe all the way across Siberia, and further towards North America.  10,000 km long, 2,000 km wide. Enormous. In large parts of the ice age, Denmark and England formed the north-western part of the Mammoth Steppe. The water level in the seven seas was 100 meters lower than today, which means that there were no North Sea. You could even walk to England, if you wanted to. On the way you would meet herds of woolly mammoths, woolly rhinoceros, Irish Elks, reindeer, steppe bison, Saiga antelope, muskoxen, and wild horses. A rich wildlife.

The Mammoth Steppe had a rich wildlife with many herbivores. It was not just the climate that upheld the Mammoth Steppe as an open, flowering landscape. It was also the animals’ grazing, their wear, and their refurnishing of nutrients, just like present-day nature management in e.g. Mols Bjerge.

The mega fauna

The bosses of the Mammoth Steppe, the woolly rhinoceroses and mammoths, were important for plants and small animals. Their grazing, their wear, and the large manure piles created a big variation in the vegetation cover.