One of the more blatant examples of political correctness has been the refusal of scientists (Jared Diamond being an honorable exception) to attribute the rapid extinction of most giant mammals in the New World shortly after the end of the last Ice Age to the arrival of the Indians, who, as we've all been told over and over, were sensitive vegan eco-feminists.
For example, the George C. Page museum at the La Brea Tar Pits on Wilshire Blvd., which is full of incredible skeletons of elephants, camels, and so forth pulled from the pits, explains that the Ice Age climate of Los Angeles was like that of modern day Monterey, CA: mild and moist. Yet, the museum then pushes the idea that maybe the Indians didn't eat all the big beasts, maybe they just died from climate change. But why wouldn't they just walk north to Monterey? In general, the end of the Ice Age made it easier to survive: for example, the mile thick sheet of ice that covered much of North America disappeared.
Weapon-wielding humans, and not warming temperatures, killed off the sloth and other giant mammals that roamed North America during the last Ice Age, a new study suggests.
The arrival of humans onto the American continent and the great thaw that occurred near the end of the last Ice Age both occurred at roughly the same time, about 11,000 years ago. Until now, scientists were unable to tease apart the two events.
To get around this problem, David Steadman, a researcher at the University of Florida, used radiocarbon to date fossils from the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola, where humans didn't set foot until more than 6,000 years after their arrival on the American continent.
The West Indian ground sloth, a mammal that was the size of a modern elephant, also disappeared from the islands around this time. "If climate were the major factor driving the extinction of ground sloths, you would expect the extinctions to occur at about the same time on both the islands and the continent since climate change is a global event," Steadman said.
His findings are detailed in the Aug. 2 issue of the journal for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This could also explain why more than three-fourths of the large Ice Age mammal species -- including giant wooly mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed tigers and giant bears -- that roamed many parts of North America became extinct within the span of a few thousand years.
"It was as dramatic as the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago," Steadman said.
If climate change were the major factor in the mass extinction, fewer animals might have been affected, since most species of plants and animals can adapt to temperature changes.
The Wooly Mammoth survived on Wrangel Island in the Arctic until 2,000 BC.