Re: Large animal extinctions caused by early man

p3voices (
Mon, 01 Jul 1996 21:23:44 -0400

In article <>, p3voices
<> says:
>I was just trying to compile a list of large animals whose extinctions
could be
>the result to a significant extent the predations of early man. I
>believe a reasonable case could be made for the following man-driven
>wooly mammoth
From: (Timo Niroma)
Brian Fagan has in his "People of the Earth":

"In the northern latitudes of both Old World and New at the end of the
Pleistocene, many big-game species became extinct, but nowhere were the
extinctions so drastic as in the Americas. <SNIP>
How many paleo-Indians were there 12600 year ago? I think there were
so few men and so much big animals, that it is very difficult to
imagine that they could have been capable of doing anything like that
in the short time the extinction happened. And what weapons did they
have at that time to do such a deed?

Timo Niroma says:: <SNIP> My pet theory says that it was an
allright catastrophe caused by an asteroid or a comet hitting the
Northern Atlantic. There is no direct evidence for this, but all that
happened 12600 years ago, hints at that direction.

<SNIP> The latest investigations imply that
both Greenland and Antarctis were warmed by twice that amount in a few
years 12600 years ago. That if anything would have caused extinctions
in northern America and northern Europe. And it renders my catastrophe
theory still more plausible, because I don't know any other pattern
that can cause such a high increase in temperature in such a short

<SNIP>It is tempting to explain mass extinctions by finding unique and
irresistible agents that clearly are not part of the ordinary ebb and
flow of biotic change on earth. For example, in the case of the
Cretaceous-boundary extinctions, the possibility of extraterrestrial
bodies catastrophically impacting the earth has been eagerly accepted
by some scholars as a robust explanation for the sudden disappearance
of so many dinosaur species. In the case of the Pleistocene/Holocene
extinctions, every empirical comparison I can make between my
actualistic data and the fossil data seem to provide support for the
die-off scenario rather than for the kill-of scenario, therefore making
Clovis hunting unnecessary to explain extinction."

I argued this thing in January in the sci.arhaeology group, but left
the debate, when it began to be a fruitless yes-no debate <SNIP>I think my
hypothesis gains more credibility. Besides there are many examples of the
animals dying in heaps as if a great tsunami had thrown them and also of
animals that had collapsed on their straight feet as if they had caught by
a sudden tremendous heat.
p3voices replies:
Timo, sorry for all the snips, but I had to make a point....

First, your (and Brian Fagan's) hypothesis IS UTTERLY ABSURB!

Back to the original hypothesis of man's role:
It is certianly within the realm of possibility that early man's hunting
weakened the survivability of N.American large fauna, causing some
extinctions. Early man at this time had a good, lethal stone age weapons
technology. These large animals sure must have been tempting targets!
But, as you and others point out, they did not have a very large
population. Still, give enough time, focussed hunting on these animals
could have contributed to their decline. Maybe climatic changes also
played a role in this. Who knows for sure?

After all, consider what damage man, equipped with only stone weapons, did
when he first landed on New Zealand, Hawaii, or Madagascar. Shortly after
man's colonization of these islands most of the large fauna were hunted to
extiinction. Now, of course it is easier to kill off all of a species on
a (large) island than a continent. However this makes the point that man
could have played a role in other extinction events. Maybe man's role in
these extinction events was insiginificant; maybe not; new data will have
to be uncovered to prove this point one way or the other. It does serve
(as I thought it would) a beginning to an interesting discussion flow.

--> Back to your "extraterrestrial bodies catastrophe" theory killing the
N.American Pleistocene large fauna: It's so absurd that it hardly
(enough caps) Where's the corollary extinction events among smaller
animal & plant fauna..etc...etc??