Prehistoric Animals

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Prehistoric Animals

To better understand primitive and ancient humans, we must look at the world in which they lived in - in many ways, a much different world in which we live today. Even the climate and fauna as recently as the ancient times was much different than it is now and this difference in fauna translated to unique influences in culture and life that no longer exist. For instance, in ancient Iran, the lion played such an important role in the lives of the ancient peoples of Luristan through the ancient Persian Empire. You see the the lion in ancient weapon motifs, seals and bas reliefs on buildings. Today the lion is extinct in Iran but in ancient times, this beast was the primary symbol of power, courage and greatness. To best understand human life long ago, we must recreate the world around them - to know the fauna and flora they came into contact with is the only way to decipher some of the mysteries that still remain. Many ancient artworks and manuscripts of their time, describe their world filled with animal and plant life that no longer exists in regions where it once flourished.

Of course, we have no written record from the prehistoric past describing what the world was like but we have two intriguing and invaluable types of evidence to allow us to recreate that time — fossils and prehistoric art. Both of these pieces to the puzzle are important. The fossils show us what was alive during that time but the prehistoric art left by primitive humans shows us what the fossils cannot — what the animals looked like when alive. For example, while we know from fossils, that the Cave Lion (Panthera leo spelaea) existed with primitive humans, we can see from Cro-Magnon cave art that these fearsome beasts had tufted tails, tiger-like stripes and short, partial manes — features we never would have known from simple bones.

In our Fossil Exhibition Hall of prehistoric animals, we display rare fossils of various beasts of the past that lived alongside primitive Man. We also briefly describe the details of what is known about each animal, but also the interaction between these animals and humans based on the fossil record as well as artifact evidence.

Each of the prehistoric animals featured here played a vital part in the lives of prehistoric humans. In some cases, Man was the hunter — in others, Man was the hunted. Some of these beasts were even revered by Man and quite possibly, played a lead role in the earliest form of human religion.

by John McNamara

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Prehistoric Animals