Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000 Page: 78
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
The land itself was also more extensive prior to the glacial melt-back, because
areas now under shallow Gulf coastal waters were dry land when the accumulation of water
in continental glaciers reduced the level of the Gulf of Mexico as much as 450 feet. Else-
where this allowed for normally inundated areas, for example, between the British Isles and
Europe and between Alaska and Asia, to be dry and to provide land bridges for terrestrial
animals to travel back and forth. When the continental glacier finally melted, these bridges
were again submerged. Also during Pleistocene and Holocene times, eroded substrate (sands,
clays, and gravels) derived from the Edwards Plateau spread as stream-carried alluvia over
Texas coastal areas, including Colorado County.2 Today, some of these deposits are valued
natural resources. Geologists and paleoclimatologists conclude that after the glacial melt-
back, Holocene climatic conditions of south-central Texas, beginning about 10,000 years
ago, slowly became warmer and periodically wetter. During both the late Pleistocene and
early Holocene however, coastal plain vegetation offered habitats for animals adapted to
grassland and/or forest environments. These plant associations are much like those occur-
Based on this brief background, picture if you will in your mind's eye a pan-
oramic view of Colorado County 10,000 years ago. The countryside probably did not look
too different than it did when Stephen F. Austin's colonists arrived in the 1820s.3 Prairies
covered with tall grasses were more extensive and woodlands were more closely associated
with stream ways. Probably, human land-use practices and exotic plant and animal introduc-
tions in the past 150 years have caused greater change to the floristic environment of Colo-
rado County than had occurred in all of the thousands of years of postglacial times.
Were a present day observer somehow able to visit this bygone environment, he
or she might see an amazing assemblage of large animals. Upon noting this diversity, the
observer might initially think that the view is of wildlife on an East African plain. However,
the array of animals present in the Colorado County area 10,000 years ago was decidedly
different from modern types in Africa or elsewhere. Most assuredly there were a few
familiar kinds of animals, such as the white-tailed deer, coyote, and bobcat, which have
survived to the present day. The rest, alas, were doomed, for reasons yet obscure, to be-
2 T. L. Bailey, The Geology and Natural Resources of ColoradoCounty (Austin: The University of
Texas, 1923); Ernest L. Lundelius, Jr., "Late-Pleistocene and Holocene History of Central Texas," pp. 287-319
in P. S. Martin and H. E. Wright, eds., Pleistocene Extinctions: A Search for a Cause (New Haven: Yale University
3 See William Bluford Dewees, Letters from an Early Settler of Texas (Louisville: Morton and Griswold,
1852), for the reminiscences of an early settler in the area.
4 Walter W Dalquest and G. E. Schultz, Ice Age Mammals of Northwestern Texas (Wichita Falls,
Texas: Midwestern State University Press, 1992); R. W. Graham, "Pleistocene and Holocene Mammals,
Taphonomy, and Paleoecology of the Frieshahn Cave Local Fauna, Bexar County, Texas" (Ph. D. Dissertation,
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000, periodical, July 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151409/m1/14/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed September 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.