‘American megafauna not killed off by Clovis people’

This video from the USA says about itself:

In 2005, fossilized mastodon remains were discovered in Pratt’s Wayne Woods Forest Preserve in Wayne. During the course of a habitat-improvement project, a contractor for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County made an initial discovery – teeth from a mastodon. With help from the Illinois State Museum, a science team visited the site to search for more fossils. This search unearthed a partial rib and pieces of bone and tusk. Watch the video to learn about the initial discovery.

From Discover Magazine:

Spores in Mastodon Dung Suggest Humans Didn’t Kill Off Ancient Mammals

A fungus found within ancient mammoth dung

Dear Discover Magazine, was it mastodon dung or mammoth dung? Though both are related to elephants, they are not the same species or genus. The BBC is also confused about this.

is providing scientists with clues about how the large ancient mammals collectively known as megafauna went extinct. The fungus, Sporormiella, produces spores in the dung of large herbivores. These are then preserved in the layers of mud and can provide an index of the number of these animals, or megafauna, that roamed the environment at a particular time [BBC News]. For a new study, researcher Jacquelyn Gill collected and analyzed spores in sediment samples from an Indiana lake and several sites in New York.

From Gill’s analysis, published in the journal Science, she concluded that North American megafauna began a slow decline around 15,000 years ago and vanished about 1,000 years later. The data suggests megafauna started going extinct much earlier than previously though, which basically wipes out two theories of their extinction.

There are several theories surrounding the extinction of North American megafuana, but there are a lot more questions than answers. Much of the uncertainty surrounding the extinction of the North American megafauna, which includes mastodons, saber-tooth tigers and giant ground sloths, is due to a scarcity of evidence and difficulty pinning down the timing of events. Several major events occurred around the same time the animals disappeared: Major environmental upheaval associated with the end of the Ice Age; an asteroid explosion over North America; and the arrival of man [Wired.com]. But the new data points to an extinction culprit other than an asteroid or comet impact, because the impact is believed to have occurred long after the megafauna began their decline.

If humans were responsible for the extinction, it would have to be settlers that came along before the Clovis people, which is another debate in itself. The Clovis culture is thought to have been the first civilization to take hold in North America around 13,300 years ago–after the bulk of the megafauna extinctions, according to the new analysis. But some researchers believe that earlier settlers walked the land before the Clovis people, and could have hunted the mastodons and mammoths. The new study adds crucial info to the fossil record, but it is likely to kindle, rather than quench, the debate over megafauna extinction.

See also here. And here.

Shock-absorbing spear points kept early North Americans on the hunt. Chipping away parts of the weapon’s base prevented its tip from snapping off. By Bruce Bower, 3:15pm, April 14, 2017: here.

Did mammoths vanish before, during and after humans arrived? Here.

Climate Change Wiped Out Woolly Mammoths, Saber-Toothed Cats: here.

Woolly mammoths died out because of dwindling grasslands – rather than being hunted to extinction by humans, according to a Durham University study: here.

Scientists have studied the extinction of mega-herbivores — plant-eating animals that weighed more than one ton — that occurred approx. 12,000 years ago. The scientists reached the conclusion that, on the one hand, modern man was the cause of these giant terrestrial animals’ extinction, and on the other hand, humans took over part of the animals’ ecosystem functions: here.

There is much debate surrounding the age of the Clovis — a prehistoric culture named for stone tools found near Clovis, New Mexico in the early 1930s — who once occupied North America during the end of the last Ice Age. New testing of bones and artifacts show that Clovis tools were made only during a brief, 300-year period from 13,050 to 12,750 years ago: here.

Mammoth Mystery: What Killed Off the Woolly Beast? Here.

Extinct mammoth tusks fill elephant ivory ban gap: here.

WHAT THE WORLD WOULD LOOK LIKE WITHOUT HUMANS So many large mammals everywhere. [HuffPost]

A team made up of members of the University of Oviedo (UO) and the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) have gathered together all findings of the woolly mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros and the reindeer in the Iberian Peninsula to show that, although in small numbers, these big mammals, prehistoric indicators of cold climates, already lived in this territory some 150,000 years ago: here.

The elephant-like American mastodon was a distant relative of the mammoth, with whom it shared its ice age home. There have been over 200 mastodon fossil finds across North America, but they seem to have been most common along the eastern seaboard and in an area immediately south of the Great Lakes: here.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida study demonstrates extinction’s ripple effect through the animal kingdom, including how the demise of large mammals 20,000 years ago led to the disappearance of one species of cowbird: here.

Studies of bones from Ice Age megafaunal animals across Eurasia and the Americas have revealed that major increases in environmental moisture occurred just before many species suddenly became extinct around 11-15,000 years ago. The persistent moisture resulting from melting permafrost and glaciers caused widespread glacial-age grasslands to be rapidly replaced by peatlands and bogs, fragmenting populations of large herbivore grazers: here.

Artifacts in Texas predate Clovis culture by 2,500 years, new study shows: here.

Ancestry of all the indigenous people in the Americas revealed in the genome of a boy who died 12,600 years ago: here.

First settlers reached Americas 130,000 years ago, study claims. Mastodon bones, stone tools place unknown Homo species in California surprisingly early. By Bruce Bower. 1:00pm, April 26, 2017: here.

Evidence of first ever humans to colonise North America found by scientists. Genetic analysis of ancient Alaskan child suggests the region was settled by people crossing from Asia 25,000 years ago: here.

Texas A&M University researchers have discovered what are believed to be the oldest weapons ever found in North America: ancient spear points that are 15,500 years old. The findings raise new questions about the settlement of early peoples on the continent: here.

People may have lived in Brazil more than 20,000 years ago. By Bruce Bower, 7:00am, September 5, 2017.

Stone tools and other artifacts unearthed from an archeological dig at the Cooper’s Ferry site in western Idaho suggest that people lived in the area 16,000 years ago, more than a thousand years earlier than scientists previously thought. The artifacts would be considered among the earliest evidence of people in North America: here.

‘End of the Megafauna’ examines why so many giant Ice Age animals went extinct. New book’s colorful illustrations also offer perspective of just how large these creatures were. By Erin Wayman, 9:00am, November 6, 2018.

The fossilized footprints reveal a wealth of information about how humans and animals moved and interacted with each other 12,000 years ago. … The researchers examined the footprints of humans, mammoths and giant sloths in the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Using ground-penetrating radar (GPR), they were able to resolve 96% of the human tracks in the area under investigation, as well as all of the larger vertebrate tracks: here.

Using human population genetics, ancient pathogen genomics and isotope analysis, a team of researchers assessed the population history of the Lake Baikal region, finding the deepest connection to date between the peoples of Siberia and the Americas. The current study also demonstrates human mobility, and hence connectivity, across Eurasia during the Early Bronze Age: here.

Research from Curtin University has found that pre-historic climate change does not explain the extinction of megafauna in North America at the end of the last Ice Age: here.

35 thoughts on “‘American megafauna not killed off by Clovis people’

  1. Forests ‘killed off the mammoth’

    Environment: Climate change and spreading forests killed off the woolly mammoth and its big mammal cousins – not spear-wielding humans, a major new study has concluded.

    Experts from Durham University said that the demise of the mammoth and other extinct “megafauna” around 11,000 years ago was due to the loss of grassland across most of Eurasia and north America.

    Some experts have argued that the rise of our Homo sapiens ancestors was largely responsible for their disappearance. But scientists have concluded that a period of post-glacial global warming in the northern hemisphere was the key reason for their extinction.



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