LAKE AGASSIZ

6/22/2022   

Eleven millenniums ago, a lake of epic dimensions gained fame as the largest lake that ever covered the North American continent. Studied and written about by humble geologists who named it after Louis Agassiz, a Swiss born scientist that wrote foundational books on glacierization from his observations surrounding the Alps. Using shoreline data and elevations, this lake exceeded the size of all the great lakes combined. In NW. Minnesota, the Lake of the Woods, Upper and Lower Red Lakes, along with huge lakes in the southern half of Manitoba are remnants of this former behemoth. This giant lake provided the perfect habitat for the well-established, North American, elephant-like mastodons and those later Asian invaders known as, woolly mammoths. This habitat suited them perfectly as the large lake became a heat sink for these creatures. The glaciers started melting, and temperatures climbed. With all that body hair, the proboscideans constantly immersed in the waters to cool down and to dine on the water’s plant life. This lake suddenly became the largest species eradicator, when a new fish genus grew and adapted to the large prey present in the lake’s shallows. The predator’s descendants are known as Pikes and were as aggressive as modern-day piranhas. These ancient fish grew up to 10′ long and in schools could devour an adult mastodon in minutes. This explains their complete disappearance 10,000 years ago as both elephant species went extinct around the time of the killer lake’s existence. Fossils are not present as the Pikes ate all the animal’s flesh quickly and their huge skeletons became layers of limestone. As the lake shrunk, the mastodon/mammoth populations huddled together making their total decimation a sad fact. The giant Pike ran out of food, and they, too, died and became limestone.  The next time you see concrete, remember, you are looking at an ancient collection of fish and mammals that morphed into a versatile construction material: cement. 

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