Re: Equids

whittet (
29 Dec 1994 04:02:48 GMT

(stuff deleted)

>> The reported extinction of the horse in the Americas after sixty some odd
>> million years of sucessful adaptations, followed virtually immediately
>> by the reintroduction of virtually identical sucessors in the same
>> enviornment seems odd.
>While I grant that 11,500 years is a geologic instant, That seems to
>be the period of time we are dealing with. the assuptions I'm working
>from are these:
> 1)Siberian hunter/gatherers enter the Americas @12,000BC.
> too my knowledge none of the pre-Clovis sites being
> investigated are fully accepted.

While that may have been the case perhaps a decade ago, I have not read
a recent book, article, paper or report, which does not mention the
growing body of evidence and albeit begrudging, acceptance of it,
that there are at least 30 well known, reasonably secure, carbon dated,
sequentially stratified, sites for mans habitation in the Americas
at 25,000 plus BC. Deal with it.

The stuff from Calico or Meadowcroft
rock shelter would not cause a single eye to blink if it were not
for the fact that we have to swallow hard to accept people getting
to the Americas by boat that long ago.

What that tells me is we need to
work out some new mechanisms to explain our anachronistic data, not
reject the data cause it doesn't fit the theory.

> 2)Fossil evidence of the American horse disappears from the
> fossil record at @10,000 BC along with most of the other
> large fauna(Mammoth, Rhino, Pleistocene Bison etc.).

I have read the horse FAQ which has the same references as quoted elsewhere
in this group. I think the fossil extinction of the horse and other
large "game" animals, was originally thought to have been caused by the
above referenced Clovis and Folsom hunters.

Since it seemed a bit extreme
to expect a small band of people to spread from Alaska to the staits
of Magellan in only 2000 years, and still have time to procreate sufficient
descendants to kill off all the animals ...

(try putting a number on the average
per capita kill rate to extinquish even a few species
like mammoth, horse, camel, bear, lion, rhino, bison, based on an
initial population of 20,000 hunters and 1 billion animals
reproducing at a standard third world rate of population increase with
a life expectancy of perhaps 35 to 40 years
and the same normal rates of increase
for the populations hunted.)...

... you can see that it was necessary to allow a bit more time for the
hunters to complete their work. There was actually a theory of "wastage"
to allow for a higher per capita kill rate due to things like running
whole herds of animals off of cliffs for sport. Unfortunately for the
theory, this occurs relatively rarely in the fossil record.

The dates for extinction seem to have been agreed to be later than
the end of the two creeks interstadial, and perhaps "well into man's
occupation of the Americas." I really don't think the last horse
fossil has yet been uncovered from this period, and there were finds in
Canada this summer that are not yet published, so the possibility remains
that there was cohabitation of man and horse in the Americas "well into
man's occupation of the Americas".

> 3)Proto-Amerindian tool cultures undergo a change to smaller
> spear.arrow points at the same time.
> This atleast suggests that the large easily hunted animals
> had been eliminated.

Actually, it could suggest that the same advances in tool making that made
bow hunting reliably accurate everywhere else in the world at this time
were working to allow American hunters to kill at a distance also.

If you have powerful laminated composite bows, straight shafted arrows and
small points you can hit your target from far enough away that you don't
get eaten or trampled by your intended victim

> 4)There is no evidence for the domesticaation of animals (other
> than the dog) until @ 6000 - 8000 BC.

The earliest hard evidence for the domestication of the horse, at any rate,
is about 6500 BC. This is within a possible range of agreement for dates
that all the necessary conditions for the domestication of the horse in
the Americas exist.

Man is in the Americas, the horse is very possibly still
in the Americas, man has been cohabitating the Americas with the horse
for some thousands of years, possibly many thousands of years and
the horse is known to be domesticated elsewhere in the world at this time.

> 5)Domestication of herd animals follows or is contemporaneous
> with the beginings of crop domestication.

My sources say domestication of herd animals, from whom nomads have
probably been getting milk and meat for some time, occurs when the
nomads get tired of carrying around their, bedrolls, cooking pots and
tents. Some great domesticators of herd animals have never attempted
agriculture to this day, but get all their needs from their herds of
animals and some gathering. The Lapps and Mongols for example.

> 6)Only those animals still extant and with sufficient docility
> to be handled by humans/dogs on foot were domesticated.

The domestication of the horse is accomplished by taking mares and
tethering them to be mounted by wild stallions. Obviously if you can
hunt an animal you can capture its pregnant females when they foal.
If you feed the foals until they learn to depend on you for food
you have domestic horses.
>With these assuptions it seems likely that the american horse was
>present during the human intrance to the Americas, but served as a
>food source until its extermination some 2-3000 years later. (yes
>I know this is an extremely short time for the extinction to occur,
>but the entire human invasion of the americas seems to be extremely
>rapid and large scale.) Following some 3000-4000 years of
>hunter/gatherer activities several groups of native americans beganto
>domesticate crops and settle down into communities. Of these only
>one had any small docile herd beasts in their area, the domestication
>of the llama and alpaca in S. america seems to be the result.

What is it about that word assume? What happens if we don't make those
assumptions? Does any other possible explanation for the observed
phenomena exist?

Why can't I turn around and with every bit as much
justification, assume that if man could enter the Americas from Siberia
he could enter Siberia from the Americas?

There are no populations in the
area of the Bering Straits of sufficient size to stage a migration to the
east.The conditions are not really conducive to imigration, you ask me, I
wanna go somewhere warm for the winter.

You give me enough assumptions
and I could assume the people who came here by boat, coasting north from
Japan, domesticated the horse and rode it back to Asia to become the Mongols.
it could happen :)
>At the momment I am working without most of my library available
>but will try to find recent sources to substantiate the assumptions
>above. If you have evidence that supports or disproves any of the above
>I would welcome seeing it.

I would really like to go one step beyond sources and propose some new
studies, which don't begin by making assumptions which exclude some
possibilities. I would also like to be aware of all the existing data,
but I don't see that it is as yet sufficient to shut the door on
further inquiries.
>While the idea of the indian having domesticated the horse is
>interesting I would suggest checking with the indian ethnologists
>for records of the introduction of the horse to different tribes.

One thing I am really curious about is that all of the coastal
areas show many tribes in possession of relatively smaller territories.
When you get to the plains, suddenly there are a few huge empires
controlling areas the size of Texas or Ontario.

Could this suggest that, possibly as a result of die offs due to
diseases imported by the Europeans, new niches opened up in the
Plains. Many tribes did get the horse before their first contact
with the whiteman.

Between 1610 and 1770 it seems like there is
an incredible change in the lifestyle of the Plains Indian, and the
immediately obvious solution is the introduction of the horse, but
a less obvious solution is the reintroduction of the horse, possibly
from territories farther north, to areas that had prieviously
belonged to other people.

>I believe the records show that the Souix didn,t start moving onto
>the great plains from the western shores of the Great Lakes until
>they got the horse in the late 1700's or early 1800's (possibly from
>French/English sources rather than Spanish). Also I understand that the
>Apache were runners rather than horsemen most of the time and
>that horse was one of their preffered meat sources.

Just stirrin it up,