Mysteries of the Ice Ages

Embark on a journey through Earth's icy history and discover the fascinating stories of ice and adaptation through hundreds of artifacts, fossils, models and interactive experiences at "Mysteries of the Ice Ages."

See authentic tools and artifacts, some never before exhibited, used by Neanderthals, early humans and Arctic peoples. Get ready to discover lands lost long ago under the world’s oceans. Come hang out with animals adapted for cold — some long extinct, others still alive today — from woolly mammoths to American lions and learn about the important role that ice has played in Earth’s history.

Ice Ages

How much do you know about ice ages?

  • An ice age is a period of time— usually millions or tens of millions of years—when vast continental glaciers called ice sheets cover much of the Earth’s land surface.
  • Several ice ages have occurred throughout our planet's history. The latest ice age in North America began about 2.5 to 3 million years ago.
  • The idea that an ice age had occurred in the past was first proposed by Louis Agassiz in the 1800s.

Ice Age Megafauna

Do you know these facts about Ice Age megafauna?

  • The Columbian mammoth is one of three species of mammoths that roamed continental North America during the end of the Ice Age. The other two species were the woolly mammoth and Jefferson's mammoth.
  • Mastodons were distant relatives of mammoths and elephants. Mastodons evolved little since mammoths and mastodons diverged from a common ancestor 35 million years ago in the Oligocene.
  • The Saber-Toothed Cat, Smilodon fatalis, was 3 feet tall at shoulders, 5-6 feet in length and weighed 350-600 pounds.



Local fossils on display inside exhibition

The world-class fossil site, Snowmass, is one of the most significant fossil discoveries in Colorado history. This discovery is unique because there are no known sites in Colorado, and few in North America, that contain both mammoth and mastodon fossils in one location. See some of the fossils from this site when you visit "Mysteries of the Ice Ages" and click the link to learn more about the excavation.

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