For 10,000 years since Beringia, the bridge connecting Asia to North America, had vanished, the Asian and Native American races show great distinction. But if Beringia has persisted to this day, could the racial differences between Asian and Native American still be the same, or could it have lessened to a degree?

While we're at it, if Beringia has existed for the last 10,000 years, how would it have affected the animal migrants traveling from Asia to America and vice versa?

  • $\begingroup$ Founder effect! but that's not my area of expertise.😓 $\endgroup$ – user6760 Aug 3 '15 at 7:37

There is continuous land available between Africa, Asia and Europe and yet you still see massive differences in wildlife as you travel through those regions. There are also cosmetic differences between humans although they are quite small on a genetic level, as witnessed by the fact that all known types of humans are fertile with all other known types of humans.

I'm not an expert on this subject but my expectation is that the existence of a land bridge might reduce the differences in some animals. However with most it would not as there is still a massive distance to cover and will most likely have a lot of different terrain and conditions as it goes. Animals which do not use the land bridge would not be changed at all by it. Animals which do use the land bridge may see differences reduce on each side.

So in summary, speciation would still almost certainly occur unless for some reason the animals were actually migrating back and forth along the bridge.

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    $\begingroup$ Would it have an affect? Sure. The question is how much. Would it have mean that there would be no or minimal differences in wildlife, or differences in human culture? Almost certainly not. Given the difficulty of a trip across such a land bridge, I'd say it would happen rarely and the differences would be small. PS Note that the idea that people reached the Americas across such a land bridge is just one of a number of competing theories. There are a number of theories involving people getting to the Americas by sea. Also a difficult trip until technology advanced sufficiently. $\endgroup$ – Jay Aug 3 '15 at 13:27

The land bridge occurred during a time of significant glaciation - this means that both the Asian and North American ends of the land bridge were largely covered in ice sheets, which are relatively inhospitable to most animals and to people.

I think it's unlikely that much exchange would have taken place, even had the proper conditions extended until relativity recently, because few creatures (human or otherwise) would have survived the crossing.

Now, assuming you create a world with a more modern land bridge, the most important things that could cross the bridge would probably be horses and diseases.

Most potential draft animals in the Americas disappeared about the same time that human habitation first occurred. It is possible that the first human settlers hunted them to extinction. Lack of draft animals puts a limit on population size, and larger populations are associated with technological progress and economic might. Re-introducing the horse prior to the Columbian Exchange could have HUGE impacts.

This exchange could potentially have brought small pox, plague, and other diseases that were utterly alien to the New World. Since these illnesses killed off a estimated 90% of the Native Americans, introducing them a few hundred years earlier could have had a profound effect - the Native Americans could have repopulated, and would have likely developed some immunity to these diseases.

If a small group of nomadic herders bearing small pox and horses had crossed from Asia to the Americas around 1000 AD they could have significantly altered the course of human history - which could make for an interesting story!

Check out the Wiki entry on the Columbian Exchange for more thoughts on what they could bring: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbian_Exchange

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    $\begingroup$ There is a really good book "The Redemption of Christopher Columbus" that this answer reminded me of. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 3 '15 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ @ Tim B: I would recommend Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel" to all World Builders. It does a fantastic job addressing how geography and the natural world plays into technology and culture... but now I'll have to add this to my personal reading list! $\endgroup$ – codeMonkey Aug 3 '15 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ This answer makes me wonder, if Native Americans kept up trade with Asia, what would European colonization have looked like? I wonder if it would have happened at all... $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Aug 3 '15 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ I think that (for humans) the problem isn't the small distance between Siberia and Alaska, which could fairly easily be crossed by kayak, but the great distances between the crossing point and the rest of the continents. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Aug 3 '15 at 17:53

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