Thursday, May 11, 2006

Humans not responsible for mammoth extinction

Humans not responsible for mammoth extinction. This is an interesting story from CNN dealing with the pre-history of humanity. One scientist has determined that prehistoric humans were not responsible for the extinction of mammoths.

"That is what this new data points out," said Dr Dale Guthrie of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.

What killed the mammoths? It was global warming. The climate of the Earth has shifted repeatedly throughout time growing warmer and colder for large (and sometimes) small periods of time. This plays havoc with some ecosystems and sometimes species go extinct without the help of humans.

The article notes, "Climate shifts were probably responsible for the extinction of the mammoth and other species more than 10,000 years ago, not over-hunting by humans, according to new research published on Wednesday. Radiocarbon dating of 600 bones of bison, moose and humans that survived the mass extinction and remains of the mammoth and wild horse which did not, suggests humans were not responsible."

Pre-historic global warming proved deadly to the mammoths. As we may be facing global warming again in the next century (either human induced or part of the natural weather cycle of the Earth), it will be important to watch for species which may have trouble adapting. Maybe humanity can save a species which might have otherwise died out.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but i do not agree with this theory. There are numerous sites across north america where the remains of dozens of mammoths have been found along with numerous human made arrows and spears. Humans may have not been the only cause but we are a big part of it. Why would ancient man kill dozens of mammoths at once when there was no means of perserving that much meat for an extended amount of time. A singled mammoth would have fed an entire village for quite a while

Anonymous said...

At the time of its extiction most groups of humans consisted of 2 or 3 families. Certainly not more than 20 or 30 people. What the heck where they going to do with 6-8 tons of meat? Not to mention having a huge dead animal in their midst which would no doubt attract scores of preditors interested in eating both it and any humans nearby.

Anonymous said...

That bones and stone tools are found together does not mean either that the humans killed the mammoths, nor that the mammoths were killed all at one time.

The latter is particularly silly. This mistake was made at a famous French site, where the original finder claimed that humans stampeded hundreds of horses over a cliff in a single kill. Which proves that finding a site doesn't mean a person has a clue as to how to interpret it. The skeletons here were deposited over thousands of years and so far out from the cliff that they can only be interpreted as having been hunted individually and butchered on the spot, one or two horses at a time, in an area along a migration passage.

Hunting elephants was not done regularly in Africa until after the introduction of iron spearheads, even by large masses of men. We can assume that this applies to other stone-spear technologies. One archaeologist said that if a man managed to kill a mammoth, he probably didn't quit talking about it for twenty years, it would be such an accomplishment.

Remember, biltong from an elephant will be meat enough for an African village for a year. A human band doesn't have to get members killed in the dangerous job of trying to kill a mammoth every week. One a year. So "dozens of mammoths" amount to a lifetime supply.

These animals may have been found injured and driven into a natural trap to be killed in an extraordinary effort. They may have been found dead and brought here for butchery: humans are scavengers by nature.

Humans of the time were too inefficient as hunters to be a big factor in extinction. They lived primarily off gathering vegetable foods with accents of meat of small game, like most hunter-gatherers in historical times.

Anonymous said...

Of course early humans were (one of/) THE reason mammoths became extinct.

If you want proof, just look at today's endangered species and the reason why they are that.