Huge glaciers reached the area of today’s Saxony on many occasions during the Elster Ice Age and the following Saale Ice Age. The glaciers of the last so-called Weichsel glaciation can only be verified today in what is now Brandenburg. But what were the landscape and the animal and plant worlds like during the glacial period?
Well, spreading out at the southern edge of the ice was a tree-less steppe-like landscape. Only low plants, such as grasses and moss, herbs, bushes, dwarf birch and arctic willow grew here and they offered the herbivores a rich form of nutrition.
On the podium you will see the most important animals that inhabited the steppe during the glacial period. The temperatures at the time were around 5 to 6°C lower than they are today, so only well-adapted animals could survive in the raw climate.
The wooly Mammoth is almost certainly the most impressive of them. It inhabited the steppes in North America and Eurasia and was accompanied by reindeer, Saiga antelope, bison, musk ox, woolly rhinoceros, arctic foxes, arctic or snowy owls and small animals such as lemmings and mice that were also well adapted to their cold surroundings. Wild horses and cave bears, wolves and cave lions lived in both warm and cold conditions.
Some of these species like the Saiga antelope or the reindeer are still indigenous to Eurasian tundra areas today, but others such as the mammoth and the woolly rhinoceros have died out.
We owe our precise knowledge of the various species of plants indigenous to the glacial period steppe to the stomach contents of a mammoth carcasses, which were preserved in the permafrost layer of soil and contained grasses and other plants.