Caves (The Extreme Earth) by Erik Hanson

By Erik Hanson

An creation to the world's such a lot attention-grabbing caves. This paintings explores each corner and cranny of those nature-made creations, together with lava caves, sea caves, and glacial caves, from Kentucky's vast Cave, to the fantastic Paleolithic work of Lascaux, to Fingal's Cave of Scotland, which galvanized Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture.

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They created here about 1,700 painting and engravings, and a re-creation of part of this activity is seen in the color insert on page C-3. Cro-Magnons in Caves These people of the Ice Age first arrived in France about 40,000 years ago, a new stage of habitation in an area that had been home to more primitive peoples for about 400,000 years. The Cro-Magnons were not the terrifying, hairy brutes constantly hitting each other over the head with rocks that one might imagine from television cartoons, though they were indeed “Stone Age,” or Paleolithic, people.

This would place them in the early eras when the Earth was without oxygen. The Earth was fiery hot then, bombarded by meteors, ultraviolet radiation, and cosmic rays and besieged with massive volcanic eruptions and torrential rains that did not relent for millions of years at a time. Different areas were very hot, or very salty, or very alkaline, or very acidic. Only extreme life-forms could live in such an extreme environment—and it is in these extreme places where they can be found today. Many, but not all, extremophiles live in anaerobic environments, meaning those without oxygen.

Their way of life was built around hunting and gathering their food, since the cultivation of crops—agriculture—was not yet in existence except in East Asia and the Mideast (and not even there until probably 10,000 years ago). They were somewhat shorter and stockier than humans today, but they looked nothing like gorillas or chimpanzees. They looked more like us than they did the Neanderthal people, who died out at about this same time, approximately 35,000–30,000 years ago, replaced by these more advanced Cro-Magnons.

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