Dr. Barbara Winter
SFU Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Bering Land Bridge
The Bering Land Bridge was not really a bridge. It was not a narrow isthmus of land connecting Siberia and North America. Rather, it was a wide expanse of continental shelf. Beringia emerged as the ocean waters receded during periods of glaciation, when worldwide sea levels dropped considerably.
The concept of a land bridge implies a narrow passage, but actually this was a wide expanse. It was larger than British Columbia is today – a flat grassy steppelike environment. This environment was a passageway for migratory animals. Animals from lemmings to mammoths came across the Bering land bridge and people followed them. People hunted and followed migratory animals as they came into the new world.
As the ice age waned, the glaciers melted, the sea levels rose and by about 10,500 years ago, the Land Bridge had disappeared, and the continents of North America and Asia were separated by the Bering Sea.