Turn the clock back 1.8 million years, and the world was full of fantastic beasts: In North America, lions, dire wolves and giant sloths prowled the land. South America boasted camel-like creatures and giant 4,500-pound bears. Eurasia had rhinoceroses and cave hyenas, while Australia teemed with giant wombats and 7-foot-tall flightless birds. Across all those continents and many islands were massive, long-nosed creatures that included the notorious woolly mammoths and mastodons.
Today we have less than half of the species known as megafauna—an exclusive club whose members weigh at least 97 pounds when fully grown—on all continents but Africa. Where did these giants all go? In the past 50 years, archaeologists have started to come to a damning conclusion: Perhaps they would still be here if humans hadn’t arrived on the scene.
duane hennon wrote:
if the early "native Americans" hunted the mammoth , giant ground sloths, dire wolves , 6 ft long beavers, cave bears and sabre tooth tigers to extinction
why weren't the later "native Americans" able to hunt the bison, elk, mountain lions, wolves, and grizzlies to extinction?
it seems that those animals were increasing in numbers despite hunting
Accepting for the sake of argument the gross assumption that this particular megafauna extinction hypothesis is correct, one might conjecture that after the large "Oh, sh#*&@...." moment of witnessing (over time) that extinction a more balanced cosmology took hold with regard to the rate of resource utilization. By analogy, with our own current rate of resource utilization, a (minimally?) second "Oh, Sh#*&@..." moment may be arriving soon, forcing the present stage of human development kicking and screaming and in full tantrum into the next level of ethical evolution.
Dale Hodgins wrote:I just look at what humans have done everywhere in the world, where they come upon an amazing food source.
The Rise of the Buffalo?
Interestingly enough, the rise of the American buffalo may have coincided with the fall of the Native American tribes. According to this theory, put forth by Charles Mann, the Native Americans originally created grasslands for the buffalo population and heavily regulated their activities.
“Hernando De Soto’s expedition staggered through the Southeast for four years in the early 16th century and saw hordes of people but apparently did not see a single bison.” ~ Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
When the Europeans first arrived in the New World, they inadvertently brought along diseases with them. Native Americans died off in massive numbers and buffalo herds found themselves free. They began to roam and quickly spread across the land, eventually becoming the most dominant large animal in what is now the United States.
Who Killed the Buffalo?
So, that helps explain the spread of the buffalo. But what about the fall? Well, it appears there are a few culprits here…the Native Americans themselves, commercial hunters, and the U.S. Army.
Native Americans, contrary to popular opinion, were not quite the “noble savages” they are often portrayed to be in modern culture. They hunted buffalo in large numbers, even going so far as to herd them into makeshift chutes and stampede them over cliffs (this took place at the well-named Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta, Canada along with many others). The Comanche alone killed more than 280,000 buffalo a year.
“They were killing more than 280,000 bison a year – the maximum loss the herds could sustain without imploding – and at the very time the great drought of 1845-50 was exacerbating the situation.” ~ Frank McLynn, Review of The Comanche Empire by Pekka Hämäläinen