Re: Large animal extinctions caused by early man

Bob Keeter (
Mon, 1 Jul 1996 03:07:15 GMT

Stephen Barnard <> wrote:
<Snipped my ramblings>
>One point of view that I've heard is that Pleistocene megafauna
>survived in Africa because they had the opportunity to co-evolve with
>humans. The Pleistocene fauna in the Americas, however, were clueless
>and therefore vulnerable.
>I don't know whether it's true, but it's plausible.

In truth, I have to suggest that the megafauna had to evolve
with far more dangerous predators that ancient man ever could
hope to be. With the exception of the very largest proboscids
I honestly would think that the big cats, wolves, and bears
would have been more than adequate to drive the survivalist
genes to the forefront! Given that, I cant imagine a mammoth,
related to elephants and at least logically, a gregarious and
relatively intelligent animal, could not make the association
of a "new preditor on the block"!

Considering the "mega-preditors" that were around, the mega-prey
had better have had pretty sophistocated survival instincts, or
they just plain would not have been around long enough to have
been missed when they became extinct! A scrawny, nekkid hungry
thing, without any canines or claws to mention, even if armed
with funny stone-tipped spears and such just wasnt that scary!

Realistically, lets suppose that mankind did make his way to the
new world and _tried_ seriously to eat his way across a continent
of walking zombie megafauna. If one of these roving bands took
down a couple of medium sized mammoths, and if we allow them the skills
of smoking or drying the meat, we're talking several thousand
pounds of USDA prime mammoth burgers! Throw in just a bit from the
"gatherers" and you can feed quite a few hungry nekkid little
preditors for a long time.

I seriously doubt that if the Mosai or Zulu of Africa developed
a culture that fed exclusively off of elephant meet that they could
have driven the elephant to extinction without guns and a lively
ivory market! Even if the mammoths ran up and fell obligingly on
your spear for you, a handful of nomadic hunter/gatherers is just
not an extinction theat!