What is Doggerland? (with photos)

Deer are a type of animal that used to exist in Doggerland.

Doggerland is a “lost land” that existed in the current North Sea, between England, Holland and Denmark. Doggerland existed at the end of the last Ice Age, around 11,000 years ago, when the glacial ice in northern Europe melted, but the sea level was still low enough that the area was not flooded as it is today. Sea levels were about 120 m (394 ft) below current levels. Other areas around the world that have been dried up by these sea levels include the seas around Indonesia and the Bering Strait, which was crossed by hunter-gatherers in the Americas.

Doggerland was above water about 11,000 years ago, between England, Holland and Denmark.

Doggerland was a rich habitat in its heyday, a haven for humans and other animals. As it is a low-lying area, it had abundant swamps and water to drink, being frequented by many animals. It formed a land bridge from mainland Europe to England and the rest of the United Kingdom. Southern Britannia was occupied intermittently by humans during the Mesolithic, but the most populous area appears to have been Doggerland. By mapping the geological composition of the North Sea floor, scientists discovered submerged features such as hills, valleys and river beds. The bed of the largest submerged river, similar in size to the present-day Rhine, was named the Shotton River in honor of Birmingham geologist Richard Shotton.

European moose, now common in Scandinavia, probably once lived in Doggerland.

The Doggerland region is considered crucial to understanding the Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age) in Northern Europe. The region is named after the Dogger Bank, a 20 m high sandbar submerged in the North Sea, a moraine (debris accumulation) created by glacial action. Scientists studied Doggerland using AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles) and divers, finding various tools including hand axes, primitive boats, carved horns and human remains including bones. These bones were studied to analyze the diet of the humans who lived there.

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Doggerland used to be occupied by mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, deer and even lions. Subfossilized bodies of these animals are sometimes discovered by bottom trawlers. The area is thought to have been relatively empty before 13,000 years ago when a cold snap would have turned the area into an icy tundra, but after that, the climate began to warm up and the area became more life-friendly. About 10,000 years ago, the Ice Age finally ended and water levels began to rise. The ascent would have been slow – about a meter or two per century – but by the time it was completed, Doggerland was under water and Britain had become an island, which it did about 8,000 years ago.

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