February 28, 2013

Did climate change kill off the wooly mammoth?

I've never understood the claim that "climate change" killed off all the megafauna in North America except the bison just as the Indians arrived from Siberia. 

The View from Wilshire Blvd.: tragic baby mammoth
For example, an immense number of skeletons of extinct animals have been dredged up from the La Brea Tar Pits on Wilshire Boulevard next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art: mammoths, mastodons, giant sloths, saber-toothed cats, camels, horses, and dire wolves. They all went extinct about the time that Indians showed up, as the Ice Age ended, allowing the Indians to break through into the main part of North America. I guess you could use it as a euphemism for how the Siberians were locked out of the center of North America by glaciers until "climate change" occurred, but the way it's usually used makes no sense.

During the Ice Age, the climate in Los Angeles was about like it is today in the Monterey Peninsula, 300 miles to the north. So, if the wooly mammoths started to feel uncomfortably warm in Los Angeles, why didn't they just walk to Monterey? They're elephants, right? Same with the camels. I could conceivably imagine giant sloths not being mobile enough to head north, but horses?

The most plausible explanation of the mass extinctions in North America about 11,000 years ago was given by Jared Diamond a couple of decades ago in The Third Chimpanzee:
THE UNITED STATES DEVOTES TWO NATIONAL HOLIDAYS, COLUMBUS Day and Thanksgiving Day, to celebrating dramatic moments in the European "discovery" of the New World. No holidays commemorate the much earlier discovery by Indians. Yet archaeological excavations suggest that, in drama, that earlier discovery dwarfs the adventures of Christopher Columbus and of the Plymouth Pilgrims. Within perhaps as little as a thousand years of finding a way through an Arctic ice sheet to cross the present Canada-U.S. border, Indians had swept down to the tip of Patagonia and populated two productive and unexplored continents. The Indians' march southward was the greatest range expansion in the history of Homo sapiens. Nothing remotely like it can ever happen again on our planet. 
       The sweep southward was marked by another drama. When Indian hunters arrived, they found the Americas teeming with big mammals that are now extinct: elephantlike mammoths and mastodonts, ground sloths weighing up to three tons, armadillolike glypt-odonts weighing up to one ton, bear-sized beavers, and sabertooth cats, plus American lions, cheetahs, camels, horses, and many others. Had those beasts survived, today's tourists in Yellowstone National Park would be watching mammoths and lions along with the bears and bison. The question of what happened at that moment of hunters-meet-beasts is still highly controversial among archaeologists and paleontologists. According to the interpretation that seems most plausible to me, the outcome was a "blitzkrieg" in which the beasts were quickly exterminated — possibly within a mere ten years at any given site. ...
We are all too familiar with the blitzkriegs by which modern European hunters nearly exterminated bison, whales, seals, and many other large animals. Recent archaeological discoveries on many oceanic islands have shown that such blitzkriegs were an outcome whenever earlier hunters reached a land with animals naive to humans. Since the collision between humans and large naïve animals has always ended in an extermination spasm, how could it have been otherwise when Clovis hunters entered a naive New World?

THIS END, though, would hardly have been foreseen by the first hunters to arrive at Edmonton. It must have been a dramatic moment when, after entering the ice-free corridor from an overpopulated, overhunted Alaska, they emerged to see herds of tame mammoths, camels, and other beasts. In front of them stretched the Great Plains to the horizon. As they began to explore, they must soon have realized (unlike Christopher Columbus and the Plymouth Pilgrims) that there were no people at all in front of them, and that they had truly arrived first in a fertile land. Those Edmonton Pilgrims, too, had cause to celebrate a Thanksgiving Day. 

But now we are told that Jared Diamond is some kind of horrible racist, so we can't listen to him anymore.

Or I could imagine that the Indians brought diseases with them, or another species like dogs or rats, maybe with some kind of plague fleas. Or maybe they set giant fires.

The last mammoths survived until about 1650 BC on Wrangel Island, in the Arctic Ocean, northwest of the Bering Strait:
Instead, Dalen and the rest of the team believes some drastic change must have occurred on Wrangel Island to kill off the mammoths, and there are two likely culprits: humans and climate. Archaeological evidence suggests that humans reached Wrangel Island at roughly the same time the last mammoths vanished, but there's no evidence yet to indicate that they ever hunted the mammoths. The more likely answer is climate change, which as a side effect might well have made it easier for humans to reach the island to serve as witnesses to the mammoths' final days.

Uh, sure. Who can't imagine the Siberians standing around saying, like an NPR announcer, "Oh, the tragedy of these  mammoths, but thankfully they survived just long enough for us to see them so we can treasure their memories."

Okay, some sort of climate change could have wiped out this population of 500 to 1000 mammoths that were stuck on an island the size of Delaware because they had nowhere else to go. But, this amazing coincidence that whenever humans show up anywhere, the mammoths die out at about the same time seems a bit unlikely. It's kind of like blaming the near extinction of the bison in the late 19th Century on some change in the weather rather than on Buffalo Bill and his colleagues.

But Native Americans are into, like, you know, ecology, so they couldn't have just hunted down the mammoths, right?

If the human newcomers in North America and Wrangel Island had been white men, would there be much controversy over whether or not they were responsible for the extinctions? 

53 comments:

theory said...

Traffic was too bad through the Newhall pass

Reg Cæsar said...

I can't begin to believe the mammoth was extincted by an organized mob of guys who look like Rae Dawn Chong.

And, Prof Diamond, Thanksgiving Day commemorates English settlement, not "European discovery".

Anonymous said...

In more recent times still, the magnificent moa, (a man sized flightless bird), was wiped out by the Maoris of New Zealand.
- Apparently this only happened during that time period known as the 'dark ages' in Europe (ie well within historical times).
You hear about the dodo non-stop (white sailors wiped that out), but one never hears a squeak (squawk?) about the moa, the largest bird ever to have lived.

Steve Sailer said...

Diamond's "Third Chimpanzee" has a lot on the moa, and some on the giant roc bird of Madagascar.

Bobos In Paradox said...

Wow, those hunter-gatherer tribes have put together a pretty spiffy web site...

Anonymous said...

Disease wipe out every single one of them? Unlikely.
All those animals hunted to extinction?
Even fast moving horses and saber tooth tigers?
And why are there still elephants and rhinos and hippos in Africa? Why didn't Africans hunt them all to extinction?

I think change in climate destroyed a bunch of species and then the big predators died of starvation and there was a whole chain reaction. Then, as a finishing touch, the new arrivals hunted the few remaining ones to extinction.

Anonymous said...

"Wow, those hunter-gatherer tribes have put together a pretty spiffy web site..."

Triblog

Anonymous said...

That savagery lobby site really is something to behold: on the "About Us" page they have a "Who agrees with us" sub-section overflowing with current glitterati names--plus some higher quality deceased names from their Julian Huxley/Norman Lewis era. Then followed of course by a section entitled, "Who opposes us"--that's a brief but thrilling one.

Ah well, they're hardly the first collection of Stone Age fanboys to try to channel their own warlike impulses through the nearest vibrant spear-technician...

triblogal elder said...

Gotta love how the academic purpose of studying pre-modern cultures morphed so quickly from a search for clues to understand our own origins, all the way over to a publicity operation for Rousseauian vagrants to emulate

Anonymous said...

Is this a GIGO problem (re: anthropology)? There must be younger anthro types in undergraduate colleges who still want to pursue this as an evidence-based job--I mean, there's gotta be a few dozen at least. Perhaps they even feel in agreement with the AAA's official ululations in regard to Indiana Jones, James Cameron, whatever. But as a simple matter of not wasting your life, how many of that pool of talent wish to rub elbows with the ensconced AAA freaks? This is way past a normal level of laughingstock (i.e. the English department). As a student I never was interested in the history of our local gov't-recognized more-native-than-thou groups but seeing any descriptions like "anthropology of the otherwise" would have definitely put me off it, after I stopped laughing. Aren't our top universities big and expensive enough to oversee an orderly schism here, so that everybody may have his little territory

Anonymous said...

Wow, Steve, actually sticking up for ol' Diamond this time. A case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend?

I've always believed that the good prof has been treated in a bit of a heavy-handed manner by the HBD hive mind.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

"Disease wipe out every single one of them? Unlikely.
All those animals hunted to extinction?
Even fast moving horses and saber tooth tigers?
And why are there still elephants and rhinos and hippos in Africa? Why didn't Africans hunt them all to extinction?"

One very powerful reason would be the tse tse fly. Scientists agree it's the only reason zimbawe still has rhinos. Anyone lingering around in their stomping ground tends to die.

I suggest you might educate yourself so that you have half a clue of what you're talking about before positing asinine questions. Then perhaps you won't try to draw a casual parallel between North America and Africa, because you'd know that would be stupid.

Anonymous said...

And why are there still elephants and rhinos and hippos in Africa? Why didn't Africans hunt them all to extinction?

The obvious answer is that Africa's big mammals co-evolved with humans and thus are much less threatened by human hunting tactics and diseases.

In contrast, America's megafauna were unaccustomed to humans, and the first encounter was correspondingly devastating.

a Newsreader said...

But Steve, didn't you learn anything in school? Were we not taught (over and over and over again) that the Indians used every part of the Buffalo? The Buffalo was Sacred to them!

Those racist archaeologists must be hiding their discovery of the massive ancient Indian cities constructed out of mastodon tusks and sloth tails.

anony-mouse said...

So how come the bison on the Great Plains survived the incoming of the Indians whereas the mammoths etc. did not?

Anonymous said...

Tangential, but 'climate change' may have greatly facilitated the boom in California's population.

As readers here will know, the Spanish made no attempt to settle upper California until nearly 250 years after their conquest of Mexico, and even then did so mainly in response to Russian/British/Yankee moves down the West Coast. That seems pretty strange considering the soil and climate of the place.

IBut, it turns out that before 1850 or so the place was subject to frequent and severe winter storms. These were called (somewhat in error) 'SouthEasters'. Dana has them causing waves as high as 18 feet in the then 'San Juan Bay'. Trading ships used to anchor 3 miles out for fear of being caught by them. Even Mark TWain's accounts of his travels in California note the severe weather and accompanying catastrophes such as landslides.

Yet these storms seem to have disappeared, for the most part, in a space of 3 decades starting just about the time the US took over California. One theory is that the end of the Little Ice Age led to the demise of these storms, mostly. (One in 1988 did destroy the Huntington Beach pier.

Anonymous said...

And the face of the Awa, an "uncontacted people" on Survival International's website; a cute little girl wearing blue jeans and a magenta blouse holding a prop consisting of traditional bow and arrow, posed just beneath the "DONATE" button.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the experience of killing off these megafauna was the cause of the "tread lightly" strain that is supposedly present in Indian ethics.

Gilbert Ratchet said...

Interesting.... I was just watching The Making of Walking with Beasts with my daughter last night. The narrator claimed that climate change indeed killed megafauna - in Europe. I'm open to the idea that humans, or human-induced change, extinguished North American megafauna, but in Europe humans and Irish elk, wooly rhinos and wooly mammoths apparently lived side by side for thousands of years, before a rapidly warming climate left the animals' adaptation to cold positively harmful.

Anonymous said...

Yup.
'Big game' survived in Africa right up to present - if it survives the 'present' is a different story.

Authorities are more or less agreed that Africa was historically massively under-populated by humans up to very recent times. Apparently, tropical disease has always killed off the vast bulk of Africans, stopping them from ever making much progress population wise.

Anonymous Rice Alum #4 said...

Anonymous said...

Wow, Steve, actually sticking up for ol' Diamond this time. A case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend?


Or maybe a case of, the truth will win out, regardless of whether someone speaking it is a member of our tribe or not?

Granted, believing that truth is more important than spin and who-whom, while the greatest strength of (part of) the alt-right, sets us up for defeat at the hands of expert liars with their hands on the media and university tillers. But the truth will win out. That's what truth does.

Anonymous said...



But Native Americans are into, like, you know, ecology, so they couldn't have just hunted down the mammoths, right?


LOL

Nah, the writers just figure than any group other than white males are just too incompetent to extinguish an entire species. Hippie anthropology scholars unwittingly reveal their bias!

Paul Mendez said...

I also believe that Homo Sapiens killed and ate all the Neanderthals.

Homo Sapiens have no problem hating and eating each other. So what makes you think we would have any qualms about killing and eating another species of Homo? Africans love chimp and gorilla meat so much they regularly smuggle it into the US.

ben tillman said...

Wow, Steve, actually sticking up for ol' Diamond this time. A case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend?

Perhaps it's that Steve doesn't fall for the fallacy of argumentum ad hominem. The fact that Diamond was wrong in important respects in GG&S, does not mean he's always wrong.

I've always believed that the good prof has been treated in a bit of a heavy-handed manner by the HBD hive mind.

If you write a book whose thesis depends on an assumption that organisms do not adapt to their environments through natural selection, you deserve all the scorn you get.

Diamond’s thesis stated at page 25 of Guns, Germs & Steel:

Authors are regularly asked by journalists to summarize a long book in one sentence. For this book, here is such a sentence: 'History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves.'

The rather obvious hole in this thesis is that environmental differences produce biological differences.

Diamond posits geographical differentiation as causing cultural differentiation. Of course, this differentiation results in different selective pressures and, therefore, biological differences.

Humans migrated out of Africa many thousands of years before the advent of agriculture, which occurred 13,000 years ago (according to Diamond). Thus, if the first migration of homo sapiens out of Africa occurred roughly 110,000 years ago (as Diamond believes), humans had several thousand generations in which to adapt to new and different environments, even before the advent of agriculture.

Agriculture then accelerated changes in population size, social organization, and technology, and humans have had another 500 generations since the advent of agriculture to adapt to their diverse geographic environments and their continually diversifying cultural environments. (See Cochran & Harpending's The 10000 Year Explosion.)

Although environmental differences started this “feedback loop” (as Rushton termed it), biological differences must have arisen long before the historical events Diamond discusses.

Thus, Diamond concedes all the facts necessary to refute his thesis as long as we accept the law of natural selection. Apparently, Diamond doesn't.

Anonymous said...

"The obvious answer is that Africa's big mammals co-evolved with humans and thus are much less threatened by human hunting tactics and diseases. In contrast, America's megafauna were unaccustomed to humans, and the first encounter was correspondingly devastating."

But how were human hunting tactics different from that of wolves?
I mean animals understand the basic rule of 'run like a motherfuc*er'.
Also, there weren't a lot of people in North America, and much of the continent remained sparsely inhabited even up to the time of the white settlers. And much of Siberia--even vast areas of uninhabited areas--lost most of its original animals.
Animals like mammoths needed to eat a lot to survive because they were so big. So, when food was plentiful, they survived. And so did giant sloths. But when food became scarce, they starved and then the animals that fed on them starved.

As for human diseases... I find it unlikely that they would have wiped out entire species, esp as human diseases are mostly not transmittable to animals and vice versa. And even when they are, they rarely wipe out entire species. Australia was separated from other places for a long time,, but the arrival of whites didn't wipe out the kangaroos.

Anonymous said...

"I suggest you might educate yourself so that you have half a clue of what you're talking about before positing asinine questions."

you need to shut up as even experts don't know what happened and disagree with one another in their speculations.

besides, i'll bet most of those big north american species evolved into being when northern parts were very warm. i mean giant herbivores like mammoths and giant sloths relied on lots of vegetation. they needed to eat a lot.
but then the northern parts began to cool. slowly, the giant herbivores began to die out due to lack of food. but some adapted to the new climate but they were much fewer in number. so mammoths became woolly. but their lives were precarious because there was less and less food in cold areas.
so, by the time the humans arrived,
most of the big animals had probably died out.

so, as winters got colder, the biggies died out. the advantage of smaller animals was they needed to eat less. also, some animals had the advantage of hibernation. like the black bears. but mammoths didn't hibernate and so they as the world got colder.
suppose africa were to become like northern canada.. a whole bunch would die. elephants and hippos especially.
my guess is there were times when the north was like the tropics. think of all the frozen marshland under the snow in siberia. the whole area used to be marshy and full of vegetation.

now, the big question is why didn't the animals move south to south america. maybe the southwest was so parched and dry that animals mostly dropped dead before finishing the trek.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I am surprised you would make such a lazy correlation.

First, so what if the Native Americans wiped out the Wooly Mammoths? Is this any different than what Europeans or Asians did when they went into their lands?

I think where you were going with this is that Europeans wiping out the Native Americans was no big deal. These kinds of things happen all the time. After all look at what the Native Americans did on their own land, they wiped out another species.

But what Europeans did was not even in the same league. Europeans wiped out a whole other race of people IN THE SAME SPECIES. This is unique to Europeans and to try to diminish this by comparing the extinction of the Wooly Mammoth is weak.

The Native Americans, after all, did not give small pox blankets to the Wooly Mammoths to wipe them out.

As for climate change, you are wrong again. I'm not going to dismiss the notion that the Native Americans hunted everything to extinction, but climate change could easily explain the wide spread extinction of many species at the same time.

A species is evolved to live within a certain ecology. Significant climate change kills off the flora that feed the animals from the bottom all the way to the top of the food chain.

If flora dissapears due to a rapid cooling it puts serious pressure upstream on everything else that feeds from it. These animals could not just move North or South because at the bottom the flora that underpinned the whole ecology was greatly diminished. And at t he top there was intense competition of animals hunting each other for food.

So, sorry try again!

Paul Mendez said...

I mean animals understand the basic rule of 'run like a motherfuc*er'.

Actually, prey animals avoid wasting resources running if they don't have to. I've seen films from Africa of gazelle grazing within feet of sleeping lions, somehow sensing the lions were not in the hunting mood.

Best example that I've seen with my own eyes is the Canada geese in a local park. Adults can walk right up to them and they pay no attention. But as soon as they spot a child, they run. They've learned that the Big Ones leave you alone, but the Little Ones will try to grab you.

candid_observer said...

I think Diamond is learning a little lesson here.

Namely, to misquote Lily Tomlin, No matter how PC you become, it's never enough to keep up.

Karen said...

In "After The Ice," author Steven Mithen states that it would only take killing about 20 female mammoths each year to drive the species to extinction in 1,000 years, given that the end of the Ice Age eliminated certain microclimates necessary for mammoths' survival. (There were places just south of the glaciers where tundra plants lived within a few miles of dense forest. That hasn't existed in the corrent geologic epoch.) Mithen concludes that climate change decimated the populations of North American megafauna and hunting by humans delivered the coup de grace.

David said...

I'm liking Steve's visuals lately. Get a load of those cave dudes.

Dutch Boy said...

The invention of the atlatl (spear-thrower) greatly increased the killing efficacy of spears vs. megafauna (they allow thrown spears to reach velocities of 150 km/h).

Anonymous said...

Jared Diamond is a racist? Mr. Political Correctness? Oh, and the website has said that Napoleon Chagnon is Discredited. Not discredited by facts mind you, Discredited because you know because he shouldn't be right, so he isn't, SO THERE. Despite the fact that Diamond layers his facts about tribal peoples with lots of politically correct sauce, it is still unpalatable to the loony left. Additionally Changnon is hardly alone: Lawrence Keeley, Steven Le Blanc, Christy Turner, and Tim D. White all have documented how brutal paleolithic to tribal people from the Stone Age to a few hundred years ago have been. The books in question are War before Civilization, Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest, Man Corn, and Prehistoric Cannibalism at Mancos 5MTumr-2346. Keeley is one of the world's leading experts on stone tools, Turner, one of the leading experts in human dentition, and White is a leading biological anthropologist and human osteologist studying human evolution at that hotbed of radical right wing views, Berkeley. Not relevant, pointing out facts only shows you are a Racist! Kneel before Zod!!!

This really shows the how dumb Diamond's attempts to spin sociobiology into politically correct environmentalism was in the first place. The PC left will never accept that non-whites or women are ever responsible for anything bad that has ever happened at anytime. European white males are original sin, and are responsible for Native Americans slaughtering each other in Arizona in the 12th Century, even though the nearest European was 5,000 miles away. They must have psychically transmitted their racist, sexist, homophobic views across the Atlantic and then North America, so they could justify stealing the Native Americans land centuries later. Now go back and read Derrida and Foucault! Science is all about power structures, Gould said so himself, and he is a scientist! His widow is now suing that evil racist Diamond as we speak!!! One wants to feel sorry for Diamond, but he tried to split the difference between PC and Science and this is the result. Better to leave PC to the humanities and root psychology in human biology.

Steve Sailer said...

""the end of the Ice Age eliminated certain microclimates necessary for mammoths' survival."

Were mammoths really so delicate? They flourished in the Ice Age but then couldn't adapt to warmer weather, unlike their African and Asian elephant cousins? I'm not really seeing this.

Steve Sailer said...

"If flora dissapears due to a rapid cooling"

No, you've got it backwards. The phrase "climate change" was crafted to be slippery and make it hard to think accurately, but what climate change means in this context is that Chicago was buried under a mile of ice, so nothing could live there, and then the ice melted as the climate moderated so the range of territory suitable for megafauna vastly expanded into the northern half or so North America.

How this would be bad for mammoths, camels, horses, etc. is very hard to pin down.

Anonymous said...

How can anyone deny that the Whites
purposely gave small-pox infected blankets to the tribes? After all, we've seen the proof as captured by Matthew Brady. Those images of has-mat suit wearing genocide enablers are forever etched in our collective societal un-con. Or if not, should be.

Anonymous said...

"Were mammoths really so delicate? They flourished in the Ice Age but then couldn't adapt to warmer weather, unlike their African and Asian elephant cousins? I'm not really seeing this."

I don't think they flourished during the ice age. I think they survived and clung to life during the ice age.
My guess is mammoths were not originally woolly. They probably first developed as warm climate animals. And then the climate cooled, and most its kind died out but some evolved into woolly mammoths and survived, but life was not easy because ice age reduced the amount of vegetation. so, they were just holding on, but then the humans finished them off.

in cold climates, life is far more precarious and options are fewer for survival.
compare polar bear with black/brown bear. black bears and brown bears are omnivores that can survive on meat, fruits, fish, cabbage, and all sorts of stuff. so, they have lots of options. but polar bears have only meat to eat in the arctic. they attack walruses, but that is dangerous as walruses are big and strong and even kill polar bears. so, the main staple is seal, and polar bears can hunt seal only where are ice holes. if those go, polar bears go. so, in a cold clime, many species just barely hang on to survival. they have few options, and if those options vanish, they vanish, and then all the other animals that depend on them vanish as well.

so, even if humans put the finishing touch on mammoth extinction, i'd say their survival had been made already precarious by the cooling climes.

Anonymous said...

The Indians were probably no more ecologically inclined then anyone else. Hollywood and politics created this false image of them. Go to any reservation in Canada and the trash is scattered all around everywhere. Even the most redneck trailer park isn't as bad.

Seafood He said...

I had assumed that it was the ancestors of the Native Americans that had wiped out the fauna of ancient US. The fact that it occurred around the same time as them coming in seemed to be pretty damning evidence. The fact that I basically never read anything confirming this was pretty much a no-brainer. Same reason you don't see mainstream articles on blacks selling blacks into slavery, Islamic soldiers intentionally infecting Christians at Caffa and setting off the black plague in Europe, Amerindians carrying out genocide on other tribes, or their attacks on European settlers in early American history, etc- its all verboten.

I guess it took them this long to come up with a semi-plausible excuse of 'climate change'. And how convenient that it is this terrible event caused by greedy whites and businesses that we must stop. Why, that is proof positive we must all eliminate our carbon footprint.

dmon said...

By ice age, you really mean ice ages, of which there were at least four identified cooling cycles. Somehow, mammoths were just fine through the first three. It was only the last cycle (so far,at least)which killed them off. Coincidentally enough, this corresponds more or less exactly with the arrival in North America of the first humans. No doubt, sailing through the first three ice ages unscathed caused the mammoths to lose their edge and get lazy. Or, they might have listened to their own herd leaders exhortations that the mammoth lifestyle would be untenable without a ceaseless supply of cheap homo sapiens to do the foraging that mammoths just won't do.

Rachelle said...

One thing, the Indians apparently were not the first, and they did not enter a continent empty of people.

In the last several years increasing evidence has suggested that some people from East Asia and others from Europe preceded the Clovis [Indian] migrants. See 'Kennewick Man' for example http://www.mnh.si.edu/arctic/html/kennewick_man.html

Also, it is odd that the saber tooth tiger would go extinct while its cousins, the cougar and jaguar, would survive. And why would mammoths, horses and camels perish but not buffalo, elk, moose and deer?

Possibly many factors combined to lead to extinction of some species. It does not seem likely that weather alone or Indians acting alone can cause the apparent selectivity in extinctions.

Phillistine Joe said...

" Anonymous said...

How can anyone deny that the Whites
purposely gave small-pox infected blankets to the tribes?"


Sure, after the tribes intentionally burned down white settlements, tortured, killed and raped women and children, etc

Not only that, the first documented case of biological warfare in the US was by native Americans intentionally poisoning the wells of whites with rotten animal hides. So payback is a mutha...

Academia and the media make up romanticized nonsense to gloss over the fact that the Indian was a sadistic, primitive, violent savage.

Me no Injun said...

"The Indians were probably no more ecologically inclined then anyone else. Hollywood and politics created this false image of them. Go to any reservation in Canada and the trash is scattered all around everywhere. Even the most redneck trailer park isn't as bad."

Yeah, Hollywood has shaped our image of the Indian, a noble savage destined for eradication. The Indians had great battlefield tactics but catastrophic strategic thinking. Under the guidance of the French, the Indians forced the evacuation of British settlement of Western Virginia to the Carolinas from 1755-1762, until the French sold them down the river at the end of the war. Indians were also brutally practical in their warfare, they would capture a family, murder the father, kidnap the mother and adopt the school-age children and dash the brains of babies against a tree. I have no problems believing the Indians could and would drive the giant mammals in their range to extinction, mammoths and sloths for food and trophies, big cats and giant bears for self-preservation. They could live with bison and grizzlies.

Iain Johnston said...

Anonymous wrote: "Europeans wiped out a whole other race of people IN THE SAME SPECIES."

No, they didn't. There are more Native people alive today than there were before the Europeans arrived. Neither is there any evidence (as another commenter alleged) that smallpox blankets were ever used against Natives. You've been lied to in order to get you to hate your ancestors. Educate yourself.

Anonymous said...

"I had assumed that it was the ancestors of the Native Americans that had wiped out the fauna of ancient US. The fact that it occurred around the same time as them coming in seemed to be pretty damning evidence."

It could have been a coincidence and we must be careful of fallacies.
Just because much of North American animals died out roughly when folks first arrived in the Americas doesn't mean that the folks killed the animals.

We must keep in mind that the folks were able to cross into America because sea levels were very low and there was connective land mass between Siberia and Alaska. Sea levels were low during the extreme Ice Age. So, this was a very cold time. So, the cold could have been killing most of the animals. But the same cold lowered sea levels and enabled some folks to move to the Americas.
So, the cold could have caused both: human migration and the death of animals. That doesn't mean human arrival led to death of animals. I mean why didn't Indians wipe out the bison population?

Prior to the cold, there were many big animals. Eating a mammoth and giant sloth could have satiated big predators. And feeding off left-overs could have satiated the little predator-scavengers. But as the cold eventually reduced the number of mammoth and giant sloths, predators were forced to feed on less big animals and each other. So, the death of mammoth and giant sloth had a chain reaction effect. Suppose a stream is filled with salmons and other fish. There is so many fat salmons that you feed on that stuff and leave other species alone. But suppose the salmon die out. You are forced to catch and eat the other fish and their numbers dwindle too.
Maybe that is why horses died out too. When there was mammoth and sloth, there was much for the predators to feast on--and so they ignored lesser herbivores. But when big herbivore-prey went, predators got hungry and attacked and ate everything, even smaller animals and each other. In time, even smaller animals became extinct, and that meant predators had nothing to eat and they died too.

Mammoths are huge and needed lots of food. And they were herd animals, so they must have ravaged entire areas. When vegetation was plentiful, they could do that stuff. But as vegetation dwindled, they ate up whatever they could find and that meant there was less vegetation to eat for other herbivores as well.

Anonymous said...

http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wildlifenews.view_article&articles_id=232

Trees done it?

Anonymous said...

http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2005/08/01-02.html

Climate or human? Why either/or? Why not both? Why not 'climate killed off many of the beasts and then humans finished them off?'

Anonymous said...

"Academia and the media make up romanticized nonsense to gloss over the fact that the Indian was a sadistic, primitive, violent savage."

Add Hollywood to that list too.

Anonymous said...

There is another explanation for why only certain animals are gone: They tasted really, really good.

Anonymous said...

The Mammoths and Mastodons died out because human hunting can devastate a very slow reproducing large animal much more quickly than a fast reproducing one. Elephants, both Asian and African have the longest gestation period in the animal kingdom, nearly 2 years (22 Months) The Mammoths almost certainly had similar cycles. A Female generally can produce only a single calf every 5 years. You add adept human paleolithic hunters entering a new territory with animals with no natural instinct to run from it and presto! The Mammoths and Mastodons were probably dead in one or two thousand years. Bison herds are larger and they reproduce much faster. The animals that hunted the pachyderms such as saber tooth cats and short faced bears probably died out first.

Diamond pointed out in the Third Chimpanzee that as humans moved away from Africa the extinction rate for large animals increased. Africa lost 14%, Eurasia lost 31%, but N. America, S. America, and Australia-New Guinea lost between 75-95%. This is consistent with the large animals on the later 3 continents having no prior exposure to human hunters. Those in Africa and Eurasia had some natural instinct to run away, but not all of them. Humans later after the Ice Ages killed off the megafauna in Madagascar, New Zealand, Hawaii, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and numerous other Polynesian islands. Those animals were probably completely unafraid of humans. Most of those extinctions were caused by Native Americans and Polynesians. This is what gets Diamond in trouble today.

Anonymous said...

An argument that explains extermination of mammoths but not bison goes like this:

Mammoths were very large and powerful, and thus had no natural enemies of consequence. Certainly wolves could take the infirm, or the young if unguarded, but this would not require significant adoption of flight behavior. Mammoths did not flee.

The first humans arriving in mammoth habitat used intelligence to develop strategy, language to coordinate tactical strikes, and technology to multiply force. The size and strength of mammoths were not sufficient to offset the human advantage. Mammoths were an attractive prey animal; large, nutritious, and possibly quite tasty.

Because bison were smaller and less powerful than mammoths, they were forced to acquire flight and herd behaviors to avoid elimination by wolf packs and other predator vectors. When humans arrived, bison used these advantages along with greater numbers and higher fertility rates to sidestep extinction.

Of course once the native peoples acquired the horse, and later the rifle, the balance of skill tilted sharply to the humans. Even without Buffalo Bill, population growth of native peoples due to increased hunting success may have doomed the bison as a wild species.

BTW, anon @ 3:35 p.m.; seals cannot live under the ice without holes, they will suffocate.

But why weren't musk oxen exterminated?

Neil Templeton



Anonymous said...

"The first humans arriving in mammoth habitat used intelligence to develop strategy, language to coordinate tactical strikes, and technology to multiply force. The size and strength of mammoths were not sufficient to offset the human advantage. Mammoths were an attractive prey animal; large, nutritious, and possibly quite tasty."

But since mammoths were so big, why did humans have to kill them all? Killing one would have fed a lot of people for a month. And there weren't that many people in the Americas 11,000 yrs ago.

And if people were the reason, why did mammoths survive longer in the old world where there were more people?

Anonymous said...

"Mammoths were very large and powerful, and thus had no natural enemies of consequence."

African elephants are just as big and powerful. But during harsh times, even big ones grow weak and fall prey to predators.
Similarly, during periods of hard weather, many mammoths surely got weak and got killed and eaten. So, their extinction would have deprived many animals of food supply, and so they died out too prolly.

If the GOP mammoth elephant finally goes extinct, will democrats predators die out too?

It's been by attacking and feeding on the white GOP that Jewish predators, black predators, brown predators, yellow predators, gay predators, elite lib prdators, and etc all managed to stick together. But without the white elephant to attack and feed on, the diverse demo beasts will have to go at one another. They'll kill one another.

Political ecology in action. Or politicology.