Scientific consensus fails again: Start of “Anthropocene” pushed back to Late Pleistocene, scientist vindicated

Guest Post by David Middleton

From The Seattle Times

SEATTLE (AP) – It’s not unusual for an archaeologist to get stuck in the past, but Carl Gustafson may be the only one consumed by events on the Olympic Peninsula in 1977.

That summer, while sifting through earth in Sequim, the young Gustafson uncovered something extraordinary _ a mastodon bone with a shaft jammed in it. This appeared to be a weapon that had been thrust into the beast’s ribs, a sign that humans had been around and hunting far earlier than anyone suspected.

Unfortunately for Gustafson, few scientists agreed. He was challenging orthodoxy with less-than-perfect evidence. For almost 35 years, his find was ridiculed or ignored, the site dismissed as curious but not significant. But earlier this month, a team that re-examined his discovery using new technology concluded in the prestigious journal Science that Gustafson had been right all along.

The pierced bone was clear evidence that human beings were hunting large mammals in North America 13,800 years ago _ about 800 years before the so-called Clovis people were thought to have migrated across the Bering land bridge from Asia.

The announcement came as sweet vindication for the now-retired Washington State University professor.

“I was pretty bitter about the whole thing for a long time,” Gustafson, 75, recalled last week. “I don’t like saying it. I never really admitted it except to my wife. It was so frustrating. But I’m very humbled and happy it turned out this way.”

20 October 2011
Old American theory is ‘speared’

By Jonathan Amos
Science correspondent, BBC News

An ancient bone with a projectile point lodged within it appears to up-end – once and for all – a long-held idea of how the Americas were first populated.

The rib, from a tusked beast known as a mastodon, has been dated precisely to 13,800 years ago.

This places it before the so-called Clovis hunters, who many academics had argued were the North American continent’s original inhabitants.

News of the dating results is reported in Science magazine.

In truth, the “Clovis first” model, which holds to the idea that America’s original human population swept across a land-bridge from Siberia some 13,000 years ago, has looked untenable for some time.

A succession of archaeological finds right across the United States and northern Mexico have indicated there was human activity much earlier than this – perhaps as early as 15-16,000 years ago.

The mastodon rib, however, really leaves the once cherished model with nowhere to go.

[...]

The timing of humanity’s presence in North America is important because it plays into the debate over why so many great beasts from the end of the last Ice Age in that quarter of the globe went extinct.

Not just mastodons, but woolly mammoths, sabre-toothed cats, giant sloths, camels, and teratorns (predatory birds with a nearly four-metre wingspan) – all disappeared in short order a little over 12,700 years ago.

A rapidly changing climate in North America is assumed to have played a key role – as is the sophisticated stone-tool weaponry used by the Clovis hunters. But the fact that there are also humans with effective bone and antler killing technologies present in North America deeper in time suggests the hunting pressure on these animals may have been even greater than previously thought.

“Humans clearly had a role in these extinctions and by the time the Clovis technology turns up at 13,000 years ago – that’s the end. They finished them off,” said Prof Waters.

“You know, the Clovis-first model has been dying for some time,” he finished. “But there’s nothing harder to change than a paradigm, than long-standing thinking. When Clovis-First was first proposed, it was a very elegant model but it’s time to move on, and most of the archaeological community is doing just that.”

First things first… This “discovery” does not alter the fact that the original human inhabitants of the Americas most likely migrated into North America from Siberia across the Bering land bridge. It remains the only viable pathway. Pushing their migration back in time a few thousand years into the Pleistocene just means that the first wave arrived before the Bølling /Allerød interstadials during the Oldest Dryas instead of during the Younger Dryas.

GISP2 ice core climate reconstruction of the Late Pleistocene through Holocene (after Alley, 2000)

The Real Clear Science link to this article was titled, “First Americans Not From Siberian Land-Bridge.” The BBC reporter seemed to draw a similar erroneous conclusion… “In truth, the ‘Clovis first’ model, which holds to the idea that America’s original human population swept across a land-bridge from Siberia some 13,000 years ago, has looked untenable for some time.” The paper in Science is behind a pay-wall; but the abstract doesn’t seem to cast any doubt on the Bering land bridge theory. The significance of this discovery is that the Anthropocene may have begun much earlier than previously thought… At least several thousand years before mankind discovered capitalism…

Science 21 October 2011:
Vol. 334 no. 6054 pp. 351-353
DOI: 10.1126/science.1207663

•Report


Pre-Clovis Mastodon Hunting 13,800 Years Ago at the Manis Site, Washington

Michael R. Waters1,*, Thomas W. Stafford Jr.2,5, H. Gregory McDonald3, Carl Gustafson4, Morten Rasmussen5, Enrico Cappellini5, Jesper V. Olsen6, Damian Szklarczyk6, Lars Juhl Jensen6, M. Thomas P. Gilbert5, Eske Willerslev5

Abstract
The tip of a projectile point made of mastodon bone is embedded in a rib of a single disarticulated mastodon at the Manis site in the state of Washington. Radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis show that the rib is associated with the other remains and dates to 13,800 years ago. Thus, osseous projectile points, common to the Beringian Upper Paleolithic and Clovis, were made and used during pre-Clovis times in North America. The Manis site, combined with evidence of mammoth hunting at sites in Wisconsin, provides evidence that people were hunting proboscideans at least two millennia before Clovis.

A previous post of mine, Run Away!!! The Anthropocene is Coming!!!, drew some criticism about my assertion “that modern man migrated out of Africa and hunted the megafauna of Europe and North America into extinction.” My comment was at least somewhat sarcastic… And yes, I do know that the human migration out of Africa began long before the Holocene, but, it is a simple fact that mastodons, stegodons and mammoths had “weathered” all of the prior Pleistocene glacial-interglacial cycles just fine. The only major distinction between the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene and the previous glacial-interglacial transitions was the migration of humans out of Africa, across the world and the demise of most of the mega fauna that were in the path of that migration…

Mammoths, Stegodons and Mastodons loved the Pleistocene but never got acquainted with the Holocene.

While I may profusely ridicule the notion that mankind’s industrial activities over the last 200 years have given rise to a unit of geological time, distinct from the Holocene… I fully believe that mankind’s conquest of Earth since the late Pleistocene is the only thing that truly distinguishes the Holocene from previous Quaternary interglacials.

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About David Middleton

I have been a geoscientist in the evil oil and gas industry for almost 30 years. My favorite hobby is debunking the junk science of the radical environmentalists...Particularly the junk science of anthropogenic global warming.
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156 Responses to Scientific consensus fails again: Start of “Anthropocene” pushed back to Late Pleistocene, scientist vindicated

  1. NZ Willy says:

    It is ludicrous how anthropologists deny that man was responsible for the mass extinction, when it so obviously was the case. Climate was irrelevant in “recent” (c 100,000yr) times.

  2. Byz says:

    David,

    there are some who theorise that Clovis came from Southern France in Europe due to flints spearheads found in France looking very similar to those in North America, whereas there is no such technique for making the same flint spearheads in Asia. As there was a huge expanse of ice between North America and Europe this gives hunters a vector to get to America via small boat in the same way the eskimo peoples have migrated. Additionally European DNA/Mitochondria has been found in some native people in that could not have got there in the European migration of the last 1500 years.

    This also undermines the traditional theories.

  3. As an archaeology student (third degree after science and business studies) it is obvious that archaeology is full of paradigms that are all but impossible to shift. So, I was intrigued by this notion that it was only possible for humans to reach America via a land bridge. I may be daft, but people have been floating around on rafts or other boats from well before any available records (there are numerous examples of islands being colonised).

    All it takes is for a group to hunt at the edge of the ice … to camp on the ice and they will eventually migrate along the ice edge to the Americas.

    It even struck me the other day, that just as seal pups in the UK are said to be white as a hangover from the last iceage … that Scandinavians may be blond because dark hair stands out in the snow. … which would suggest Eskimos/Inuit would be blond … so don’t take it too seriously!

    The truth is that throughout archaeology there are these illogical paradigms based on not much more than someone’s reputation (often 19th century or earlier). As a Scot, the obvious one is the “celtic” nature of Scotland. The truth is that there is not one single bit of evidence linking any historical record of a Kelt to Scotland.

  4. Michael Schaefer says:

    From the article:

    “First things first… This “discovery” does not alter the fact that the original human inhabitants of the Americas most likely migrated into North America from Siberia across the Bering land bridge. It remains the only viable pathway.”

    —————————————————————————————————-

    Wrong.

    Some researchers suggest, that hunters following marine mammals with boats or on foot along the ice-rim of the then-ice-covered Northern Atlantic from East to West during the last glacial may have preceded the Clovis-people in Northern America, because the european “Acheuleén”-hunting culture and their respective stone tips MUCH MORE resemble the stone tips of Clovis spears than the rocky tools used by siberian people during that time, which were used to use small stone chips, which were glued on a shaft with birch-tar, instead of solid, manufactured flintstone-points.

  5. David Middleton says:

    “This ‘discovery’ does not alter the fact that the original human inhabitants of the Americas most likely migrated into North America from Siberia across the Bering land bridge. It remains the only viable pathway.”

    OK… Instead of, “It remains the only viable pathway,” I should have written, “It remains the only most likely pathway.” The evidence does not preclude other migration scenarios.

    But, the pre-Clovis human DNA evidence is consistent with migration via the Bering land bridge…

    Pre-Clovis Human DNA Found In 14,300-Year-Old Feces In Oregon Cave Is Oldest In New World

    ScienceDaily (Apr. 3, 2008) — DNA from dried human excrement recovered from Oregon’s Paisley Caves is the oldest found yet in the New World — dating to 14,300 years ago, some 1,200 years before Clovis culture — and provides apparent genetic ties to Siberia or Asia, according to an international team of 13 scientists.

    [...]

    The DNA testing indicated that the feces belonged to Native Americans in haplogroups A2 and B2, haplogroups common in Siberia and east Asia.

    [...]

    LINK

  6. Ralph says:

    .
    I thought the Clovis came from Southern France, as the tool-making technology and the tools themselves are the same for both people, and the era is likewise the same.

    It is said that the French Clovites kyaked along the southern ‘shores’ of the northern ice cap, from France to America, somewhat like the modern eskimo lifestyle (in a journey taking many years). This would presuppose that Clovites could make a seal-skin kyak, which, seeing the level of skill in their spear heads, is not impossible.

    .

  7. 1DandyTroll says:

    Considering that the indigenous people of the Americas are so dissimilar in appearance from north to central to south it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that they came from all over from different direction at different times.

    It strikes me as odd that with so many different varieties of humanoids that sprung from the existences of “monkeys” gone ape-bonkers around gorillas, that has been around for some 800 000 years only some monkeys made it to south america 40 millions years before on rafts of vegetation over the atlantic according to wikig’damnpedia.

    They had to have 40 million years of evolution, 40 million years of looking at monkeys leaving ‘em behind on haphazard natural formed crude raft, to be able to postulate the idea that they could walk across by scaling mile high ice, through blistering cold and horizontal hale storms, through herds of weird ginormous beasts, all the while battling other ape turned to humans, to get to the promised land?

    I ask myself, why do they call the apes the smart ones?

  8. wayne Job says:

    When the oceans are the odd 150 to 200 metres lower in an ice age, you can almost walk to America from Australia. It would be interesting to see a profile of what is above the water with this huge drop in ocean levels. If the oceans dropped that much I could almost ride a motor cycle from Australia up through Asia to Europe.

    If people can see land across the water they will be curious, once they get there, if they see more land they will be curiouser, and so forth. Hence they move and occupy.

    Australia has been populated twice before European settlement, the original inhabitants some what like neanderthals, heavy boned and thick skulled. I have yet to find a time frame from our researchers of when they arrived, probably early on in the last ice age. The present aboriginal people arrived around 30,000 years ago and the original inhabitants disappeared rather quickly except in Tasmania. These people did not know how to make fire and had very primitive tools, that would explain their downfall.

    History of ancient travels and peoples is a guessing game and recent achaeology would tend to suggest that very advanced civilizations have come and gone over very large time frames. Looking at some ancient sites our engineers today cannot construct what the ancients did, makes you kind of wonder.

  9. Ralph says:

    .
    You know I have always had a problem visualising this Younger Drias Clovis scene in France.

    Here we have the glaciers extending down to London, and the ice-pack down to France, while the Sun was blazing down from high in the sky during a Delightful Franco summer. This is not the Actic land of permanent winter darkness, so why was it quite so cold for an ice-pack to survive this solar onslaught?

    Was the Sun dimmed? Was the atmosphere really dry, so no greenhouse water vapour to keep the atmosphere warm? But if the atmosphere was dry, that blazing Sun could easily make it moist again. CO2 was not a governing factor, as there was plenty of that around. Even a stuttering Atlantic Conveor / Gulf Stream would not stop the Sun blazing down at French latitudes.

    So why so cold that ice packs floated around balmy La Rochelle? Any enlightenment?

    .

  10. Hoser says:

    Genetic evidence does not exclude a European component in the pre-columbian populations of North America. The X haplogroup is more associated with eastern North America. It isn’t surprising that older DNA evidence from Oregon is asian. This sample is presumably from only one human. Most aboriginal american DNA is of the A, B, C and D haplogroups.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_X_(mtDNA)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_Amerindian_genetics

    I found a pretty good article on the topic. The story is complicated, and yet there is a relatively clear statement:
    These findings leave unanswered the question of the geographic source of Native American X2a in the Old World, although our analysis provides new clues about the time of the arrival of haplogroup X in the Americas. Indeed, if we assume that the two complete Native American X sequences (from one Navajo and one Ojibwa) began to diverge while their common ancestor was already in the Americas, we obtain a coalescence time of 18,000 ± 6,800 YBP, implying an arrival time not later than 11,000 YBP.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1180497/

    The authors suggest the X2 haplotype migrated across Siberia, but left essentially not trace. Their work does not exclude the possibility of pre-columbian European migration to North America. Keep in mind that mitochondrial DNA doesn’t mix or recombine with other DNA. It is passed intact only through mothers. If Europeans did come early to North America, they came as familes, not just as a hunting or raiding party of men.

  11. Sleepalot says:

    NZ Willy says: November 2, 2011 at 12:18 am

    “It is ludicrous how anthropologists deny that man was responsible for the mass extinction, when it so obviously was the case. Climate was irrelevant in “recent” (c 100,000yr) times.”

    Except, of course, that Africa remains full of large, tasty animals.

  12. Grey lensman says:

    So thats why all the elephants are extinct in Africa and Asia. Modern stone age hunters. not Neanderthals, Peking Man or Java man or even Davidsovians. All those mega mammals lived in USA until Clovis man arrived. Seems that Clovis man did not eat bison or elk or deer only mega mammals. But i seem to recall that Clovis man went extinct about the same time.

    Fake science, fake assumptions, are the same in every field.

    Jack and Dave can make a simple crop circle thus they made every crop circle.

    Have we not moved beyond that grade of science?

  13. Jay says:

    I am more worried about the politicene era. In the anthropocene era, humans can change the temperature and climate.

    In the politicene era, politics can change the temperature.

    (adjustments as required)

  14. Ralph B says:

    What I don’t understand is why Mastodons etc when there were plenty of deer and buffalo. Elephant isn’t a food source in Africa, maybe mastodons were an easy kill? If you read Lewis and Clark’s journal the plains were a veritable cornucopia of meat. Humans weren’t hunting sabre-toothed cats for food, why did they go extinct? Everything is always the fault of humans.

    Lastly…still around after 14K yrs? Looks like they didn’t meet their RDA of fibre either.

  15. Alex the skeptic says:

    The cave-dwelling pre-Clovis and Clovis were hunting animals to extinction and the greens want us to go back living in the caves? It seems that cavemen cause more extinctions than modern homo sapiens.

  16. MarkW says:

    “ScienceDaily (Apr. 3, 2008) — DNA from dried human excrement recovered from Oregon’s Paisley Caves is the oldest found yet in the New World — dating to 14,300 years ago, some 1,200 years before Clovis culture — and provides apparent genetic ties to Siberia or Asia, according to an international team of 13 scientists.”

    If it’s ever possible, I’d like to see the test results from some east coast human DNA from the same time period.

  17. wws says:

    “The truth is that there is not one single bit of evidence linking any historical record of a Kelt to Scotland”

    but I think I have heard something about Kilts.

  18. David Middleton says:

    Sleepalot says:
    November 2, 2011 at 4:26 am
    NZ Willy says: November 2, 2011 at 12:18 am

    “It is ludicrous how anthropologists deny that man was responsible for the mass extinction, when it so obviously was the case. Climate was irrelevant in “recent” (c 100,000yr) times.”

    Except, of course, that Africa remains full of large, tasty animals.

    Grey lensman says:
    November 2, 2011 at 4:57 am
    So thats why all the elephants are extinct in Africa and Asia. Modern stone age hunters. not Neanderthals, Peking Man or Java man or even Davidsovians. All those mega mammals lived in USA until Clovis man arrived. Seems that Clovis man did not eat bison or elk or deer only mega mammals.

    The megafauna of Africa and human ancestors had co-existed for at least several hundred thousand years. As humans spread out through Africa and South Asia, the megafauna had time and space to adjust to human predation. The megafauna of North America, Europe and North Asia had far less time and space (suitable habitat) to adapt to human predation.

    But i seem to recall that Clovis man went extinct about the same time.

    Fake science, fake assumptions, are the same in every field.

    Jack and Dave can make a simple crop circle thus they made every crop circle.

    Have we not moved beyond that grade of science?

    The Clovis people did not go extinct…

    Early Paleoindian (9500 B.C. to 9000 B.C.)

    The first subperiod, Early Paleoindian, is characterized by Clovis or Clovis-like large fluted stone points. It is believed that the distribution of these points throughout all the environmental zones in the Southeast represents the initial exploration and colonization of the region. Great mobility of the Paleoindians of this subperiod is suggested by the finding of stone tools and debitage traded or transported by these small bands over hundreds of kilometers from their quarry source. The Southeast, at this time, consisted of three broad environmental zones, running west to east. They were cool-climate boreal forests, temperate oak-hickory-pine forests, and subtropical sandy scrub. The last area was confined to the Florida peninsula and the coastal plain in the Southeast, which extended several kilometers outward from its present location due to the lower sea level. Megafauna of the Late Pleistocene was found in these three environmental zones.

    Middle Paleoindian (9000 B.C. to 8500 B.C.)

    The second subperiod, the Middle Paleoindian, is characterized by a number of fluted and unfluted points, both larger and smaller than Clovis points. The point types of this subperiod in the Southeast are Cumberland, Redstone, Suwannee, Beaver Lake, Quad, Coldwater, and Simpson. This subperiod is viewed as a time when the population was adapting to optimum environmental resource zones instead of randomly moving throughout the Southeast. Concentration on specific zones and resources may account for the variation in the stone points of this subperiod.

    Late Paleoindian (8500 B.C. to 7900 B.C.)

    The last subperiod, the Late Paleoindian, is characterized by Dalton and other side-notched-style points. The replacement of fluted point forms by nonfluted points is believed to reflect a change in the adaptive strategy, away from hunting Late Pleistocene megafauna toward a more generalized hunting of small, modern game, such as deer, and a collecting subsistence strategy within the southern pine forests as they replaced the boreal forests.

    Chert deposits may have attracted Paleoindian groups of this subperiod to specific locales in order to replenish their stone tools. Such a tendency may have constrained these groups to a specific landscape, setting the stage for the intensive regional specialization that characterized the succeeding Archaic Period. It is possible that large Paleoindian sites in the Southeast are permanent or semipermanent base camps from which resources of specific territories were exploited. Trade or transportation of stone tools appear to decrease as Late Paleoindian groups relied on local materials for their needs.

    LINK

  19. Ask why is it so? says:

    Why is it that science has to find a single cause for everything. Maybe man did hunt some species to extinction, maybe climate changed too rapidly for some species to adapt, maybe they overpopulated depleting food sources so some species starved to death, maybe volcanic activity played a role, maybe water sources dried up, etc. etc.

    Carl Gustafson had to wait nearly 35 years to be told he was right all along. Mr. Watts I hope you’re a very patient man.

  20. Nick Shaw says:

    Color me skeptical that humans were the cause of mass extinction of all the mega animals of the Americas. Considering the number of humans involved and the tools they had at their disposal, it just doesn’t seem to make sense that the large animals were hunted to extinction while essentially similar animals in other parts of the world, much more populated with humans, were not.
    I cannot postulate on what really caused such a die off but, human hunting? I don’t think so.

  21. Pull My Finger says:

    There are grievous problems with the current state of early man’s history. It is patently obvious that humans were in the Western Hemisphere before the land bridge theory timeframe. How it is still considered orthodox is beyond me. The techonology, and more importantly, the similarity in technology, mythology and construction, of early civilizations have an awful lot in common. There are also numerous sites, many underwater, that turn traditional dating on its head. Also the recent discovery of Gobekli Tepki in Turkey, 7000 years older than the pyramids, simply shattered the widley held notions of man and technology and religion.

    Right now the past is the future, between archaeology and astronomy all kinds of “settled science” is being uprooted and turned to fodder.

  22. Randall G. says:

    A minor and trivial point for anyone who may discuss this and related articles: The name of the town near the Manis site, Sequim, is pronounced as “squim”, with the ‘e’ being not just silent, but totally ignored.

  23. Eric Anderson says:

    “This “discovery” does not alter the fact that the original human inhabitants of the Americas most likely migrated into North America from Siberia across the Bering land bridge. It remains the only viable pathway.”

    Of course it remains the only viable pathway. /sarc off

    After all, we know those Polynesian folks weren’t navigating hundreds, even thousands, of miles in across the ocean in small hand-made vessels. Wait. What’s that? They were? Rats.

  24. John T says:

    Ralph B says:
    November 2, 2011 at 5:31 am
    “Humans weren’t hunting sabre-toothed cats for food, why did they go extinct?”

    It could be because there are two reasons a predator (including humans) will kill. One is food. The other is protection. Humans aren’t the only species that will actively hunt out and destroy other species that pose a threat.

    Not that that proves anything.

  25. Grey lensman says:

    Dave says

    Quote

    The megafauna of Africa and human ancestors had co-existed for at least several hundred thousand years.

    Unquote

    As they did in Europe and Asia with Neanderthals etc, with their very strong spears and tools and very successful time span, far in excess of the short time we have been around. So the millions of bison adapted to modern humans but the rest did not.

    Sorry I dont buy it, if for no other reason than it lacks simple logic. The Tools replacing Clovis have been identified, made by french tourists from the South of France. Lots of holes in the “standard Model”.. Methinks a better more interesting and vibrant picture is emerging

  26. David Middleton says:

    Ralph says:

    November 2, 2011 at 3:25 am

    .

    I thought the Clovis came from Southern France, as the tool-making technology and the tools themselves are the same for both people, and the era is likewise the same.

    It is said that the French Clovites kyaked along the southern ‘shores’ of the northern ice cap, from France to America, somewhat like the modern eskimo lifestyle (in a journey taking many years). This would presuppose that Clovites could make a seal-skin kyak, which, seeing the level of skill in their spear heads, is not impossible.

    The problems with the “Solutrean Hypothesis”

    1) No clear DNA evidence.
    2) The Laurentide Ice Sheet was in the way. Laurentide Ice Sheet, approximately 14,000 years ago. (Short, 2008).

     

  27. Myron Mesecke says:

    “But there’s nothing harder to change than a paradigm, than long-standing thinking.”

    As we are finding out regarding the flawed man made CO2 global warming belief.

  28. Jim G says:

    Anthony,

    “The only major distinction between the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene and the previous glacial-interglacial transitions was the migration of humans out of Africa, across the world and the demise of most of the mega fauna that were in the path of that migration..”

    That is the only major distinction we know of. Maybe, but I don’t buy it as anything more than a possible theory. Hunting anything to extinction with the methods available in back then is a stretch. Climate, disease, volcanism, impacts, and their effects on food sources, etc. all are other possibles. Very large critters do not have the staying power when food is diminished and most that went extinct were replaced by smaller more efficient models of similar beasts. It’s like the coyote vs the wolf.

    Jim G

  29. JET says:

    Clovis man caused the megafauna of North America to go extinct?

    I have great difficulty with the thesis that small fur-clad men with sharpened rocks on the end of tree branches managed to obliterate all the abundant, large, impressive animals at about 13,000 years before present. Especially the large cats that, unless their behaviour was uncharacteristically pusillanimous compared to modern felines – think taking on an African lion armed only with a pitchfork – would require an army of animal control officers with a great deal of time between hunting and gathering their food for such activity.

    The extinction of the North American megafauna was most likely a true extinction event and the cause was extraterrestrial – like the influences that drive major climate fluctuations.

    See Firestone et al. 2007,

    OPEN ACCESS ARTICLE can be found here:
    http://www.pnas(dot)org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0706977104

  30. Stephen Richards says:

    The rib, from a tusked beast known as a mastodon, has been dated precisely to 13,800 years ago

    Another piece of BBC rubbish reporting. They are just so so bad.
    You can date nothing precisely unless it has the manufacturers mark and date on it. Sadly they were missing from this fossil.

  31. Hoser says:

    2) The Laurentide Ice Sheet was in the way.

    http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/165125/enlarge

    Big glaciers can be surrounded by sea ice.

  32. Gail Combs says:

    There has been a lot of work done using DNA to trace migration routes and the findings are fascinating.

    This is a quick summary article:

    …..
    Chinese Migration to Mexico, B.C.

    Researchers studied Native Americans from the Navajo, Chamorro and Flathead tribes. They then determined that all three groups possess a unique type of retrovirus gene, JCV, found only in China and Japan (National Academy of Sciences, 1197). Would seem to suggest travel by boat.

    Virus Links Andes with Japan

    There is a theory that South America was colonized from Asia thousands of years before any Spaniards set foot in South America. DNA from bone marrow of 1,500 year old mummies found in northern Chile was analyzed. The results show that a virus associated with adult T-cell leukemia was prevalent in native Andeans and in a small section of people from southwest Japan. The study also theorizes that the virus may have originated from paleo-Mongoloids who migrated to Japan and South America more than 10,000 years ago. No doubt that this was an mtDNA PCR study (Nature Medicine, 1999). …

    Americans Descended from Australians ?

    Americans from European ancestry are traced to one of the daughters of Africa Eve, as found in a study above. A further study examined a 11,500-year-old skull, found in Brazil, which appears to belong to a woman of African or Aboriginal (Australia) descent. This might suggest boat travel.

    http://www.ramsdale.org/dna10.htm

    The first Article I saw suggested an Africa => Middle east => Asian =>Islands around Indonesia => Australia ???(disproved)=> S. America route.

    REFERENCES:
    the Neanderthal genome and the Denisova DNA

    http://www.sciencenewsline.com/archaeology/2011092616060018.html

    http://www.atkinslightquest.com/Documents/Science/Evolution/WhoWasEve.htm

    It would seem the fight is heating up: Disscusion of latest Paper on Denisova DNA

  33. Mike McMillan says:

    Perhaps a ‘Clovis tax,’, or a ‘Clovis trading scheme’ with ‘Clovis credits’ would have saved the New World megafauna. We’ll never know.

  34. Annette says:

    A professor when I was in college had theorized that the ‘New World’ was populated by peoples in canoes following the west coast from Alaska south. Any evidence of landfall would have been on the shoreline then which is now 300 to 400 feet off the present-day coastline.

    One of the first natural inlets during that time would have been Grays Harbor in Washington State. The newcomers could have followed the Chehalis River inland as it was south of the ice sheet. Unfortunately, last I knew, he had found little evidence to support his theory; although he was still researching.

    As far as hunting mega fauna into extinction, North American humans also employed hunting tactics that resulted in many food animals dying at one time. They would run herds of animals (mammoths, bison, buffalo) off cliffs and would then enjoy a tremendous bounty of fresh meat. I don’t know that those hunting practices would be successful with deer or elk. With the hunting pressures on the large herd animals reducing their numbers, the number of large predators would also decline.

  35. dp says:

    I remain curious about something. In Africa there remains a substantial amount of mega fauna even though humans have shared the region far longer with these beasts than they did North America. I don’t accept the idea that the local mega meat adapted. In fact the idea seems absurd.

    In Africa or the new world the easiest way to convert mega fauna to food is to kill the newborns and infants. Spearing adults would likely have been self-defense or desperation, and possibly opportunism when dealing with geriatric giants. And if you know enough to go after newborns, why newborns of 5000 pound beasts when deer and caribou are handy and plentiful? There is far less risk to the hunters and nobody would have understood that better than the hunters. While this would produce seasonal abundance, the off-season provides a lot of manageable sized ungulates, fish, rodentia, seals, fowl, etc. All with far lower risk of injury to the hunter.

    This would likely not apply to the pygmy mammoths found on the Channel Islands off California’s shores, but they disappeared around the same time that mega fauna disappeared everywhere in North America. Is it possible that people traveled coast to coast and south to California, and equipped themselves with the wherewithal to reach the Channel Islands in so short a time?.

    Back to Africa – and India where mega meat continues to exist. This is so, I believe, because there were smart people there that knew you can get killed by mucking with rhinos and elephants.

    I’m not yet ready to jump on the blame people first wagon. I think climate, disease, and parasites (mosquitoes and related diseases, particularly), were major contributors and opportunistic hunters a minor role player.

  36. P Walker says:

    I took a number of Southwestern (US) Archaeology classes in the early 70’s . As I recall , my professor thought that humans had probably inhabited N America for some twenty thousand years . This is the first I have heard that archaeologists have been dating the earliest human inhabitation based on the Clovis point ! It would have taken humans hundreds , if not thousands, of years to migrate from the Bering land bridge to Clovis , which is on the New Mexico/Texas border .

  37. Steve Garcia says:

    David –

    Thanks for pointing us to the article in the BBC, but I find your post pretty ill-informed about this subject. You don’t seem to know the juxtaposition of things in time or the gestalt of the whole thing.

    You are wrong about your claim that

    This “discovery” does not alter the fact that the original human inhabitants of the Americas most likely migrated into North America from Siberia across the Bering land bridge.

    The mitochondrial DNA evidence showed that there were FIVE incursions into the Americas. The “original human inhabitants” came more than once. One even came from the Pacific islands. One came from Europe.

    After the site in Monte Verde in Chile was vetted in 1997, the archeologists were all over themselves either trying to hang onto the “Clovis First” meme or (if they were smart and not just out-dated) they were out trying to find more sites and HOW the humans got here earlier. Cactus Hill, in Virginia, was dated to about 16,000 ya, which was ~3,000 years before this bone met this spear point. After the European mtDNA evidence was in, they were all trying to figure out how humans came across the oceans, and most concluded that they hugged the shores, which was not unreasonable, but still may have been wrong. Yet that has become the consensus.

    And if hugging the shores in boats was tenable earlier, it was certainly tenable while the ice-free corridor was closed.

    The only major distinction between the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene and the previous glacial-interglacial transitions was the migration of humans out of Africa, across the world and the demise of most of the mega fauna that were in the path of that migration…

    This is exactly the thinking that has fueled CAGW and Clovis First from the beginning. “Nothing else varied, therefore we are left to conclude that [blah.blan, blah]…” But something else DID vary, as things are turning out. In both topics.

    You obviously have not heard of the Younger-Dryas Impact hypothesis. That says that both Clovis man and the negafauna had a common “extinction event” – probably a comet impact similar to but much bigger than the Tunguska blast of 1908. Either you have not heard of it or you choose to not include it in the discussion.

    Some scientists, in their enthusiasm for defending the status quo, have made MSM claims that the Y-D Impact researchers are either liars or ignorant. “They don’t know the difference between graphene and nano-diamonds, went one of the arguments, even though graphene wasn’t even KNOWN to exist for sure until 2004.

    At a recent conclave at Bern, Switzerland, however, much evidence around much of the globe (Greenland, Belgium, USA in particular) shows that they evidence for an impact of some kind is not only good evidence but more widespread than heretofore believed. The evidence is getting stronger and stronger that the Y-D impact happened, even if no impact site has been found (yet). Recall that it was a long time till a site for the dinosaur killer meteor of 65 million years ago was found. (I myself am still, about 20 years later, somewhat skeptical about the assignation on the Yucatan coast.)

    Your arguments about the “Bering land bridge” are not terribly well-informed. Either that or you have left something out. It is not the land bridge that was ever an issue of when humans came. It was the ice-free corridor I mentioned above.

    Pushing their migration back in time a few thousand years into the Pleistocene just means that the first wave arrived before the Bølling /Allerød interstadials during the Oldest Dryas instead of during the Younger Dryas.

    A.) 13,800 versus 13,000 is not “pushing back in time a few thousand years.

    B.) You also don’t seem to understand that the stadials of the Younger Drya and the Older Dryas were actually ICE AGES. The land bridge wave(s) would not/could not have come DURING the Y-D or the Older Dryas, but during the Bølling /Allerød interstadial.

    C.) As far as is currently known, there was an “ice-free corridor” that did not form until about 13,500 years ago. This happened at wither (or both) 18,500 – 15,500 years ago, or at about 12,000 to 14,000 years ago. The land bridge was there all along, until the post-Y-D, Holocene rise of sea levels.

    D.) It is not at all certain that Clovis points even CAME from the people who came over the land bridge. Two things argue against it:

    1.) There are NO known Clovis points in northern or eastern Asia. This has been a problem since forever with the “Clovis points equals Asians” idea.

    2.) The closest thing to a Clovis point is the Solutrean point, which existed in EUROPE, and which dates to about 19,000 ya. As long as Clovis First was the “consensus” about humans in America, no one was willing to accept that Clovis points (13,000 ya) may have evolved from Solutrean points. The main stumbling block was the timing. But once Monte Verde was vetted, the door was open to new ideas. And one of those ideas was that Clovis points came from Europe. If the interval of 6,000 years could be narrowed, then the Solutrean-Clovis connection could become more viable.

    This bone does not hurt the Clovis-Solutrean connection, but 800 years alone does not connect them. At the same time, maybe the article’s author thinks that this is the only solid proof, but a LOT of other sites show strong evidence that predates 13,800 ya, like Cactus Hil. The author himself is probably 10 years behind. It is all new to him, but it is old hat to those paying attention in this area. How these guys get to be science editors is beyond me, sometimes.

    While it is correct that the vast majority of humans DID come over the land bridge, and evidently through the ice-free corridor – the DNA evidence shows this is likely true – the other four incursions into the Americas are still to be worked out. But they are real. And some of them came over even earlier than 20,000 ya, according to the DNA evidence so far. That puts some of them even before the Solutrean era.

    It is entirely possible that spear points like the one in that bone had been in the Americas for 6,000-7,000 years when that hunter stalked that prey.

  38. Steve Garcia says:

    (formatting screw-up alert… Anthony, if you could add an appropriate “/” or

    it would be appreciated – and if so, also please delete this alert… sorry!)


    REPLY:
    With no clear idea where to place it, can’t help you. I have better things to do, so I’ve deleted the comment, you can repost.

  39. Steve Garcia says:

    hahaha! my blockquote in brackets got me there, too! Dumb, dumb, dumb…

  40. johnmcguire says:

    Ever hear of the great , world wide , flood? Ever read the bible? I know, some of you so called scientist types are just too smart to accept the existance of a supreme being. As the bible said a long time ago, science falsely called so.

  41. J.H. says:

    I can never really accept that humans caused mega fauna extinctions. Two main reasons.

    1:Human population densities and populations were not high.

    2:In the modern era even with extremely high human populations….Elephants, Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, etc….. They are forms of mega fauna, and they are still with us…. Humans haven’t been able to drive them to extinction….. But change the habitat, and they are finished.

  42. johnmcguire says:

    Consider the map of the world and the fact that north and south america appear to have broken away from the land mass that is europe and africa. The bible does claim that happened in the days of Peleg, and how can anyone say it didn’t? That would help to explain when and how this continent got populated. And by the way, when that statement was recorded in the bible we didn’t yet have airpalnes or satelites to take ariel pictures so the writer wouldn’t have known of the pictorial evidence.

  43. Except, of course, that Africa remains full of large, tasty animals.

    This fact has always bothered me about the humans driving the megafauna extinct meme. In some respects it parallels the AGW meme that since this happened and since humans are evil, 1 + 1 =2 and thus humans are responsible for the extinction of all of the megafauna.

    I don’t presume to know what caused this extinction, but the anti-point that the cradle of humanity in Africa still has the highest high order mammalian species diversity should drive a reasonable scientist to question the assumption that of course humans did it.

  44. TRM says:

    A great read, if you have some time, is a book called “Lost World”. The Lost World being all the land that was shoreline when the oceans were 300-400 feet lower. It shows how island hoping around the rim of the Pacific from Asia to North America was quite possible even with extremely primitive methods.

  45. I also found a very good peer reviewed paper that says that the LACK of CO2 probably helped to drive the megafauna extinction process in the northern climates.

    A History of Atmospheric CO2 and Its Effects on Plants, Animals, and Ecosystems
    Miocene were low enough (180-320 ppm; Pagani, Freeman, and Arthur 1999) to potentially cause a significant decrease in plant productivity, particularly in C3 species. Herbivores, such as browsers that fed almost exclusively on C3 vegetation, would have been especially susceptible to such changes. Janis, Damuth, and Theodor (2000) proposed that the decrease in species diversity of ungulate browsers during the Miocene was due to reduced plant productivity mediated by declining CO2 levels. Fruthermore, the decline in the diversity of grazing mammals, particular horses, at the end of the Miocene, may have been the result of declining plant productivity (MacFadden 2000). Low CO2 concentrations have also been implicated in the extinctions of the Pleistocene megafauna. Gutherie (1984) proposed that environmental change during the last glacial period caused a decrease in plant availability. Morever, they suggested that the predominant plant defenses (alkaloids, cyanide) selected for under this climactic regime would have been more toxic to the megafauna (mammals with primarily simple stomach digestion, e.g., mammoths) than to ruminants (i.e. caribou)

  46. Jim Steele says:

    There have been several studies showing that the last mammoths survived longer on isolated islands that were the most difficult and thus the last places for hunters to reach. “Patterns of faunal extinction and paleoclimatic change from mid-Holocene mammoth and polar bear remains, Pribilof Islands, Alaska” (2008) Veltre et al

    Long after the end of the ice age, mammoths still lived on the remote Pribilof Islands 5500 to 6500 years ago, while on Wrangel Island they lived as recently as 3600 years ago. To put that into historical perspective, the ice age ended 10-12,000 yeara ago and the Great Pyramid of Giza was built about 4600 years ago. Human hunting the BIg Kill is much more likely than extinction by climate the Big Chill. A related theory to their extinction by the Big Kill, is the Big Ill, where humans introduced disease while over-hunting. The very recent extinctions caused the by human spread of a chytrid fungus that has driven several frog species to extinction makes the Big Kill and Big Ill much more plausible than climate change when all those animals survived several glacial and inter-glacial events.

  47. jack mosevich says:

    Humans may have been in North America as long as 50,000 years before present:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041118104010.htm

  48. James Goneaux says:

    Sounds like the same kind of attack as Tom Dillehay’s work at Monte Verde:

    http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/clovis/thomas.html

  49. Pull My Finger says:

    There are lots of theories about the Biblical Flood, especially as some form of the story exists in practically every civilizations’ mythology. The one I found most convincing for North America is that the glacial melt was initially contained to the top of continenal ice sheet and a wall of ice and moraine basically created a massive inland sea on top of the glacier. When that wall came tumblin down all hell broke loose as thousands of cubic miles of water rushed over the continent obliterating all before it. That would explain the extinction of mega fauna and perhaps the sacarcity of pre-Clovis human sites in the north. Anyway…

  50. Paul Vaughan says:

    @dp (November 2, 2011 at 9:38 am)

    Certain types of climate changes will depress numbers, but not cause extinction. Humans were relying on depressed numbers at rates equilibrated during times of plenty. Remember that these are not equatorial regions, so the swings are more violent. You do what you have to do to survive in the face of extreme adversity.

    @Hoser (November 2, 2011 at 4:01 am)

    The distribution suggests hypothermia resistance (and water-based migration & lifestyle), which wouldn’t be a surprising association with mitochondrial DNA.

    @David Middleton

    Interesting article.

  51. Austin says:

    The massive sea level and lake rises from 15,000 year BP to about 6,000 years BP would have caused massive human migration around the globe. Add in the warming and the release from ice of huge amounts of land and coastline. Whole ecosystems would have been on the move from land and sea side. You would have had an explosion in life on the land and in the sea. The geographic and resource changes would have drawn people like moths to a flame and once the urge to move begun, it would have favored the ones who moved the most. There is a term that translates to “arctic hysteria” in some Russian paleoarcheological studies about the explosion in art and tools among the Siberian tribes from this time. The sites depict a radical change in outlook as things got easier and food became very plentiful.

  52. Austin says:

    “In the modern era even with extremely high human populations….Elephants, Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, etc….. They are forms of mega fauna, and they are still with us…. Humans haven’t been able to drive them to extinction….. But change the habitat, and they are finished.”

    The counter to this is that the animals in those areas evolved with the humans and learned to avoid them. African Elephants and Water buffalo are very aggressive.

    In cases where people were not around, the fauna did not evolve a means to deal with people. So they were easy pickings. The demise of megafauna in Australia, NZ, and North & South America all coincide with the arrival of humans. The archeological record shows rise and use of tools designed for killing the large animals and the use of these tools stop when the mega-fauna is gone.

    If you study hunting practices in North America, you will find that these groups were very mobile and very good at killing mega fauna. And they killed wantonly.

    Analysis of the bones indicates a selective or “gourmet” butchering technique and offers insights into bison-herd demographics. Assessment of the projectile points suggests the movements of Folsom groups in relation to lithic sources.

  53. Mike McMillan says:

    Regarding African megacritter survival –

    The elephants and rhinos lived out on the savannah, where humans would be prey to the large solitary and pack carnivores (lions, hyenas) that were wise enough to leave elephants alone. Hippopotamuses lived in crocodile-infested water, and were themselves big time killers of man, so the ancient Egyptians avoided them. Basically, man was as much prey as predator in Africa.

    That wasn’t the case in the New World, where the only pack predators were wolves, which we domesticated to protect us from the undomesticated carnivores.

  54. David Middleton says:

    Hoser says:
    November 2, 2011 at 9:04 am
    2) The Laurentide Ice Sheet was in the way.

    http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/165125/enlarge

    Big glaciers can be surrounded by sea ice.

    14,500 years ago, the Solutreans would have had to follow that sea ice from France to Nova Scotia. There was little, if any ice-free land in between Northern Europe and New York at the time of pre-Clovis and/or Clovis migration. Or, they would have had to cross the open Atlantic.
    There is no archaeological evidence of Solutrean migration along the sea ice to the North America.

    While I will stipulate that those scenarios are not impossible, the pathway from Siberia to North America was open and is littered with archaeological evidence of migration along that pathway.

  55. David Falkner says:

    Another interesting tidbit about human migrations. In India, the caste system is also stratified with European DNA. The higher in the caste system you go, the more European the DNA is. It’s theorized that this is because of Aryans. This word has fallen into disfavor now, for obvious reasons, and I can’t remember what the new term is. I’ll have to see if I can find the paper I read on this.

  56. Gail Combs says:

    I have to agree with others, I do not like the “Blame humans” scenario. I have messed with cattle horses, goats and sheep. I have been stomped on, bit and knocked over by all four species.

    This humorous story give a good look of what dealing with these animals is like: http://www.snopes.com/critters/farce/ropedeer.asp

    You would have to be VERY desperate to tackle mega-fauna. I imagine they were hunted in the fall/winter so the meat would last. Otherwise the effort was not worth the trouble. Wolves also switch from mice and other small prey to caribou in the winter for the same reason, availability.

    Disease or something else seems a much more likely option especially since frozen Mammoths have been found with grass in the stomach and in the mouth and the animals seemed to have died from suffocation. See: http://www.grahamkendall.net/Unsorted_files-2/A312-Frozen_Mammoths.txt

    This Article has been “purged” from the internet.

    Abrupt Climate Change: Should We Be Worried? – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    “Most of the studies and debates on potential climate change, along with its ecological and economic impacts, have focused on the ongoing buildup of industrial greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and a gradual increase in global temperatures. This line of thinking, however, fails to consider another potentially disruptive climate scenario. It ignores recent and rapidly advancing evidence that Earth’s climate repeatedly has shifted abruptly and dramatically in the past, and is capable of doing so in the future.

    Fossil evidence clearly demonstrates that Earth vs climate can shift gears within a decade….

    But the concept remains little known and scarcely appreciated in the wider community of scientists, economists, policy makers, and world political and business leaders. Thus, world leaders may be planning for climate scenarios of global warming that are opposite to what might actually occur…

  57. Jason Calley says:

    @ Sleepalot “Except, of course, that Africa remains full of large, tasty animals.”

    Actually, every continent on Earth has a bunch of large tasty animals. Even Antarctica has a few hundred. Of course, legal, religious, cultural, and epidemiological reasons prevent us from eating them. Also, some of them shoot back.

    :)

  58. pittzer says:

    @johnmcguire.

    The bible is a great place to go for spiritual enlightenment, but not so much for plate tectonics and anthropology.

    With all due respect, Africa and South America broke apart some time during the Cretaceous period. Sometime between 65 and 145 million years ago (and yes, God, in all his glory, did this). However, that was a long time before humans were around.

  59. Philip Bradley says:

    Humans cleared of killing woolly rhino

    http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/humans-cleared-of-killing-woolly-rhino/story-e6frfku0-1226184151431

    Climate change did it.

    Although the news report contains no details on how they arrived at this conclusion.

    The usual grant whoring twaddle IMO.

  60. David Middleton says:

    Gail Combs says:
    November 2, 2011 at 11:48 am
    I have to agree with others, I do not like the “Blame humans” scenario.

    [...]

    It’s not blaming humans. It’s simply a fact that the North American, South American, European and North Asian megafauna handled at least eight previous full glacial-interglacial cycles and all of the D-O interstadial/stadial cycles of the last Pleistocene glacial… Yet they rapidly went extinct concurrently with the rapid expansion of humans into Europe, North Asia and the Americas during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition.

    Certainly disease could have been a factor, humans and their dogs could have helped spread diseases into regions in which the megafauna had little resistance… But there is nothing climatologically unique about the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene; nor is the Younger Dryas stadial particularly distinct from previous stadials. The one thing that clearly changed was the expansion of human populations across the globe.

    The ironic thing to me is… We (capitalists) are often lectured to about “noble savages.” Native Americans (AKA American Indians) respected the buffalo and other animals upon which they depended… Only taking what they needed to survive and frugally making use of every last bit of meat, bone, tissue and hide… While “pale faces” wantonly exterminated entire herds just for the skins. When in fact, the ancestors of those “noble savages” may very well have exterminated dozens of species of megafauna. Maybe they learned a lesson… And that’s why they developed such respect for the buffalo and other animals they hunted.

  61. Richards in Vancouver says:

    A fine, lively discussion in these comments. But re. Megafauna extinction, I must add one factor that may (or may not) be relevant. All Megafauna have a weakness that may have helped them become extinct: they take a long time to mature. If I wanted mammoth steak I’d hunt the babies. Tender, probably self-basting, easier to butcher into portable chunks, and deadly to any Megafauna species. Extinction wouldn’t take long, I think.

  62. johnmcguire says:

    @ pittzer Thank you for your courteous reply. You bring a point that has troubled me for years, and upon which I have done some reading. I accept that carbon dating seems fairly accurate and apparently can be used to go back a few thousand years. Possibly twenty thousand? I have read some about the theories based on gases found in rocks and upon deterioration at a supposedly set rate. Yet I have not read of any theory based on such things that has a proven method. I simply, perhaps some might think too simply, reject theories that date time into the hundreds of thousands and millions of years that have no method of proving themselves. I find such theories are used to conveniently invoke statements that the bible is not factual as a scientific reference. With all due respect , I remain open to instruction and enlightenment.

  63. Jim G says:

    “David Middleton says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:42 pm
    Gail Combs says:
    November 2, 2011 at 11:48 am
    I have to agree with others, I do not like the “Blame humans” scenario.

    [...]

    It’s not blaming humans.”

    The real point is that it is neither at all feasible nor logical given all the easier food sources for man at that time and modern experience with the results of over hunting do not support the theory. It took train loads of hunters with modern firearms to kill off the majority of the American Bison and they are still around plus many believe that the fencing of the range and farming settlement had a major impact on their numbers. Hunters with scoped rifles can sit on prairie dog towns and shoot and shoot and not even reduce their numbers while the plague kills them ALL off very quickly.

    Scattered bands of nomadic hunters with spears and “buffalo jumps” did not kill off all of the mega fauna of that time. Highly unlikely without other environmental factors playing a large part in their extinction. The American Indians (politically incorrect name I am sure) could not kill off the Bison with similar tools and techniques and there were probably many more of them following the herds and making their living in that manner than 12,000 years before.

  64. E.M.Smith says:

    Don’t have time to dig up the reference right now, but I vaguely remember some cave in Virginia? with very early habitation evidence and evidence of fire rings in South America from something like 20,000 years ago as evidence for much earlier habitation.

    Also saw a fascinating article (which link I’ve since lost) that did a great job of showing evidence for a large rock fall from space hitting the ice shield of N. America as causal of the extinctions and with ‘facts on the ground’ including secondary cratering in the Carolinas pointing toward the impact site in Canada (with some smaller spalling having caused impacts in the southwest, giving a southwest to north east trajectory of the swarm, impact into the ice, and secondary ejecta landing as far away as the Carolinas.) Did in most of the Clovis people too.

    So I think we’re a long way from saying “Asia only” on the source of Native Americans (AND their odd DNA markers from Europe…) and we’re even further away from Humans Caused Extinction (especially as we are lacking bone piles from all those various critters being eaten… but have them for other species being eaten…) North America has had a very “rich” history, but “out of Asia once and ‘people did it’ whatever it was” is not it… And if you don’t have boats in your chronology, you just are not in touch with what people do… What do we find buried in the sands with ancient Pharaohs? Boats. What is use by Eskimo and coastal Indian alike? Boats. What put folks on Iceland, Greenland, etc.? Boats. When were boats first used? Oh, we don’t know… Maybe we ought to ask the Australians if they walked to Australia 50,000 years ago…

    So I’m glad to see that we’ve pushed things back a few hundred years more. Just 10,000 more years to go and we’ll be getting somewhere…

  65. Pull My Finger says:

    EM Smith, you are correct, there is a huge crater in Quebec, Pingualuit Crater, that is very young geologically speaking.

  66. Rob Crawford says:

    “This “discovery” does not alter the fact that the original human inhabitants of the Americas most likely migrated into North America from Siberia across the Bering land bridge. It remains the only viable pathway. ”

    The best theory is one population came along the coasts, likely over the water. Another population appears to have come via the south Pacific, and possibly a third from Africa. There are vague hints of one coming from Europe, but the evidence isn’t as strong as the others.

    One of the biggest issues is that no one’s ever identified a glacial-period “ice-free corridor” through Canada. That makes the coasts much, much more likely.

    PIck up Elaine Dewar’s “Bones: Discovering the First Americans”.

    In an echo of the AGW issue, here in the US the problem is the politicization of the science.

  67. Steven Kopits says:

    I have to admit certain reservations about the ice core temp data. In the last 10,000 years, the temp appears to have varied only 3 deg C from top to bottom for the whole period. The ice core data suggests that the temp varied by as much as 15 deg C in less than 1,000 years. Is that really plausible? Is the climate now not only more warmer but also more stable? I am inclined to doubt it. This suggests the ice core data is highly volatile and unreliable, really more about error bars than historical temperatures.

  68. DocMartyn says:

    “Nick Shaw
    Color me skeptical that humans were the cause of mass extinction of all the mega animals of the Americas. Considering the number of humans involved and the tools they had at their disposal, it just doesn’t seem to make sense that the large animals were hunted to extinction while essentially similar animals in other parts of the world, much more populated with humans, were not.
    I cannot postulate on what really caused such a die off but, human hunting? I don’t think so.”

    The extinction was a geologically a sudden event, and happened between 13.8 and 11.4 thousand years ago.

    The oldest domestic dog bone is 9,400 years old, and consists of a bone fragment discovered in a Texas cave.

    Dogs radiating from Siberia to Texas, say 2,000 years?

    So what if dogs were introduced at the same time as the extinction level event?

    What if the dogs had rabies (from the arctic fox), distemper, parasitic roundworms, Bordetella bronchiseptica and a large number of other diseases that were not found in the large mammals in the America’s?

    Asian and African elephants in captivity are kept well away from dogs and cats as these are reservoir species for many diseases that kill elephants.

  69. Pull My Finger says:

    Frankly I always wondered what mammoths could have lived on in a tundra environment. Something that big, and the other cool mega beasts, would have needed tons of vegetation.

  70. MarkW says:

    Except, of course, that Africa remains full of large, tasty animals.

    In Africa, the large tasty animals co-evolved with humans.

  71. Neil says:

    @Wayne Job,

    Not certain where you got your info about Indegenous Australians being here only 30,000 years; latest evidence suggests over 78,000 years ago, making then part of the first migration out of Africa, before the land bridge between Australia and Asia broke apart. Also, some Dreaming stories vividly describe the megafauna of the time (giant kangaroo, giant wombats etc).

    DNA evidence also suggests that time frame. AFAIK, no Neanderthal evidence.

  72. Austin says:

    “You would have to be VERY desperate to tackle mega-fauna. I imagine they were hunted in the fall/winter so the meat would last. ”

    This is what atlatls are for. Killing from a distance.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlatl

    I watched a bison get killed with one and its very effective.

    If you think megafauna is dangerous to a human on foot, watch a rodeo clown sometime. Now imagine a few of them with atlatls. Trivial.

  73. MarkW says:

    Humans weren’t hunting sabre-toothed cats for food, why did they go extinct? Everything is always the fault of humans.

    If humans hunted the animals that the sabre-tooth cats preyed on into extinction, then the sabre-tooth cats will also go extinct. Their dentition was uniquely formed to hunt mega-fauna, they couldn’t easily switch over to hunting smaller animals.

  74. MarkW says:

    The Laurentide Ice Sheet was in the way.

    You pre-suppose that the people involved had no knowledge of how to travel by sea. There most likely would have been many places along the shoreline where people could camp for a night, or a week, while hunting the seas.

  75. David Middleton says:

    Pull My Finger says:
    November 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm
    EM Smith, you are correct, there is a huge crater in Quebec, Pingualuit Crater, that is very young geologically speaking.

    Pingualuit (Chubb) Crater is young… But not young enough at 1.4 million years old.

  76. MarkW says:

    “There is no archaeological evidence of Solutrean migration along the sea ice to the North America.”

    The areas where migration would have occurred are at present, under about 300 feet of water.

  77. David Middleton says:

    MarkW says:
    November 2, 2011 at 2:08 pm
    The Laurentide Ice Sheet was in the way.

    You pre-suppose that the people involved had no knowledge of how to travel by sea. There most likely would have been many places along the shoreline where people could camp for a night, or a week, while hunting the seas.

    Siberia and Beringia remained largely ice-free throughout the last glacial maximum (LGM). The Bering land bridge was open from well before the LGM up until ~13 kya. The Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets separated about 14.5 kya. Siberia, Alaska, Alberta and the Pacific Northwest are littered with archaeological evidence of the pre-Clovis migration. The only pre-Clovis human DNA identified to date (Paisley Caves, Oregon) “belonged to Native Americans in haplogroups A2 and B2, haplogroups common in Siberia and east Asia.”

    While it would not have been impossible for the Solutreans to lay-over on sea ice during the long kayaking trip from France to North America and “an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”… There were no ice-free coastal areas in Greenland, Newfoundland or Labrador 14.5 kya. Apart from some now-submerged islands on the Grand Banks, there were no ice-free coastal areas from Northern Europe to Nova Scotia 14.5 kya. There is no archaeological evidence of Solutrean migration (granted such evidence would most likely be underwater). Nor is there any clear DNA evidence tying the Solutreans to the pre-Clovis or Clovis.

  78. Joseph says:

    I’m surprised this is new information…
    I thought the now prevailing theory is that the Americas were populated many, many thousands of years ago by the Ainu (Japanese) long before people crossed the Bering by foot based on archaeological finds in South America and elsewhere.
    At least, that’s what I learned in a freshman archaeology class like 8 years ago…

  79. Tom G(ologist) says:

    For another geologist’s take, I invite you to visit my blog at

    http://suspectterrane.blogspot.com/

  80. Myrrh says:

    The Hopi say they arrived some 22/23 thousand years ago, and they came in from South America travelling through that continent in stages until arriving in the north, over thousands of years. And someone mentioned island hopping with lower sea levels, that’s how they tell it.

  81. Gail Combs says:

    Tom G(ologist) says:
    November 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    For another geologist’s take, I invite you to visit my blog at

    http://suspectterrane.blogspot.com/

    _______________________________________
    Tom, I can certainly understand why you dislike the word “Anthropocene” I hate the way the PC crowd keeps changing perfectly good words. It is idiotic.

    My favorite nit to pick is the miss use of the word thoroughbred. Every time I here some one say the phrase “I have a thoroughbred doberman, for example, I want to ask how they managed to cross a horse with a dog. Heck a thoroughbred isn’t even purebred it is the descendant of a English mare crossed with one of three Arabian/Barb Stallions.

    I did enjoy your blog.

  82. Bill Illis says:

    Did you see the Discovery Channel documentary where a group of volunteers went out for a week and tried to live as stone age humans.

    It only took about 2 minutes of actual hunting before they were able to take down an Elk with an Atlatl spear-chucker and long arrow/spear/dart. Elk don’t even budge when you hit them with golf ball at 150 miles/hr.

    [Warning: disturbing images, violence and crying for the Elk killed by starving stone age humans]

    http://www.yourdiscovery.com/video/curiosity-elk-hunt/

    The speed of butchering with stone age tools is shocking. (Better than modern knives really).

  83. David Middleton says:

    Tom G(ologist) on November 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm said:

    For another geologist’s take, I invite you to visit my blog at

    http://suspectterrane.blogspot.com

    As nearly as I can tell, your view of the Anthrpocene/Holocene is not too dissimilar from mine. Modern man is the only genuine distinction between the Holocene and previous Late Pleistocene interglacials and that Anthrpocene is an idiotic attempt to differentiate the industrial age from an already unremarkable interglacial stage.

  84. Larry Fields says:

    Pull My Finger says:
    November 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm
    “Frankly I always wondered what mammoths could have lived on in a tundra environment. Something that big, and the other cool mega beasts, would have needed tons of vegetation.”

    Wow, lots of great comments on this thread! In response to PMF’s question, I remember reading in Science News a while back, about informed speculation based upon ancient pollen. Apparently many thousands of years ago, a large part of Alaska was an extremely cold, semi-arid kind of landscape, not found in modern world. At that time, the mammoths could have feasted on the sagebrush and other delectable yummies. It wouldn’t have been necessary for them to have had specialized adaptations for browsing lichen in the tundra, as reindeer do.

  85. Grey lensman says:

    Has anyone dated the mass graves of giant elk in Alaska or or mass graves of Mammoths in Siberian Islands. Has anybody done a detailed study of the Flora present with them. The Chesapeake sediments show dramatic change, Clovis below, French above.

    The geology shows massive changes, the red layer. The formation of Niagara Falls, The extinction of the Bahamian Species and the associated massive clouds of Iron Dust from Africa. The massive temperature swings during the Younger Dryas. It is all there, it needs a closer look and data sought, such as sapling.

  86. Bill Illis says:

    One issue not discussed very much is that CO2 levels were very low and the colder temperatures resulted in less precipitation.

    Those conditions favor “grass” vegetation over broad-leafed plants. Ice age conditions were, in fact, grassland conditions. The US southeast was the only area forested in North America during the ice ages. The non-glaciated portions of North America were, in fact, the great plains. The megafauna were, in fact, mega-grass-herbivores.

    When the climate warmed, and more rain fell, and more forests grew back, the mega-grass-herbivores were naturally less in numbers. Throw in a stone age hunter who could take down animals with ease (with elaborate fencing and fire concentration zones and elaborate cliff jumps and meat cut preferences given the large number of animals available, and eventually atlatls and clovis spearpoint weapons), the mega-fauna’s death rates eventually overwhelmed the slow birth rates that mega-fauna have.

    I imagine a few other biological reasons like deseases brought in from Asia played a very large role.

  87. Jeff Alberts says:

    Randall G. says:
    November 2, 2011 at 7:57 am

    A minor and trivial point for anyone who may discuss this and related articles: The name of the town near the Manis site, Sequim, is pronounced as “squim”, with the ‘e’ being not just silent, but totally ignored.

    Darn! You beat me to it! Can’t wait till we get a climate story with Puyallup, or Camano, or Steilacoom…

  88. TRM says:

    ” Rob Crawford says: November 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    “This “discovery” does not alter the fact that the original human inhabitants of the Americas most likely migrated into North America from Siberia across the Bering land bridge. It remains the only viable pathway. ”
    One of the biggest issues is that no one’s ever identified a glacial-period “ice-free corridor” through Canada. That makes the coasts much, much more likely. ”

    That was the gist of the book I mentioned Lost World. They went into detail about the 2 ice sheets covering North America and how there was no path down the middle. It doesn’t require a huge migration all at once just a coastal place where the food is good when the tide goes out. As more people arrive some move on to the next place and the leapfrog around the Pacific would be done in several thousand years.

    There were other good reasons to avoid the interior such as walking takes a lot longer than drifting or paddling a raft and the giant bear mega critters that would make a grizzly run for its life.

  89. DesertYote says:

    Myrrh
    November 2, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    The Hopi say they arrived some 22/23 thousand years ago, and they came in from South America travelling through that continent in stages until arriving in the north, over thousands of years. And someone mentioned island hopping with lower sea levels, that’s how they tell it.
    ####

    The Hopi also say that after many thousand of years, a hole formed in the ice wall to the north allowing them to meet relatives who had been trapped on the other side.

  90. DesertYote says:

    Bill Illis
    November 2, 2011 at 7:39 pm
    ###

    Another point is that all of the mega-fauna meat eaters were highly specialized hyper-carnivours. Man and the recently arriving grey wolf were not. Both are quite happy hunting big or small game, in woodland or on the plains. It is significant that man was quite capable of taking large game, but was not dependent on doing so.

  91. Grey lensman says:

    DNA Evidence, Haplogroup X is very clear and well documented plus the stone tool matching. Crete was occupied by pre-humans who used boats, long before modern man. The Extinct people of Tierra Del Fuego, were not only Australian they needed no clothes or shelter to live in that wild climate.

    It seems to me that using the best tools and databases we have now, so much more can be gained from the evidence that we have. For example, what exactly does frozen with grass in their stomachs mean? What grasses and plants and pollens, what environment does that indicate. What bacteria , that has an impact as well. These can all be accurately dated if the dating system is really strong.

    The boneyards are well documented but I have found very little research on them. They must be a massive resource of real information.

    Australia had at least two migrations. Old man, as evidenced by the non modern human bones at lake Mungo and modern man. Their cousins in Tasmania had very clear links with the South Americans. Not yet confirmed but the evidence is strong.

    Even now they find South American Mummies from 500 A.D. processed with resins proven to be from New Zealand and South Pacific trees. How do you explain that. The presence of sweet potato in New Zealand long prior to Capt Cook.

    I think the problem is that there is no money in it, i does not build a secure future as does globull warming research.

  92. Spector says:

    From 1981, there is a book entitled “American Genesis” by Jeffery Goodman, who asserts modern man originated on this continent based on what he claims to be evidence of human occupation of this continent before the Siberian land-bridge opened the way for contact between the continents. This author has been criticized for the practice of ‘psychic archaeology’ and entering the realm of pseudoscience.

    Elsewhere, I have also seen proposals that the first Americans may have come by way of Australia, perhaps by Polynesian style island hopping. These people were presumably replaced during the wave of Siberian colonization. Recently I have seen a report that DNA analysis indicates that the Australian Aborigines appear to have reached eastern Asia first. “The researchers calculated that the first migration, which brought in ancestors of the Australian, might have entered eastern Asia some 62,000 to 75,000 years ago. The second” [modern human migration] “might have happened 25,000 to 38,000 years ago, they said.”

    CBSNEWS TECH
    Aborigines first humans to settle Asia
    September 22, 2011 2:06 PM

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/09/22/scitech/main20110216.shtml

  93. Steve says:

    The paleo-Indians (whether from Oceana, France or Siberia) had sophisticated means of hunting. To this day in Rocky Mountain National Park you can see the animal runs they made by planting trees at or just above timberline. These focused the game into a ‘funnel’. A mastodon, smoked, could feed the whole clan all winter. Driving them off cliffs, with fire, and then getting the good bits is something that has been demonstrated to have been the pattern.

    A significant reduction in population followed by the Younger Dryas could have reduced levels to those too small to sustain themselves in the face of continued human predation.

  94. Larry Fields says:

    Kennewick Man, whose nearly complete skeleton was unearthed in Washington State in the 90s, is another fly in the ointment of conventional theories of archeology. Carbon-dating puts the age of his remains in the 9000-year range. And his bone structure does not look very much like that of modern Native Americans in the region. Three educated guesses put forth are Caucasian, Polynesian, or Ainu. How and when did KM’s ancestors find their way to Washington State?

    We have some idea how he died. It may have had something the do with the spear point found in his hip bone. But why did others like him die out?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennewick_Man

  95. David Middleton says:

    TRM on November 2, 2011 at 8:06 pm said:

    [...]

    One of the biggest issues is that no one’s ever identified a glacial-period “ice-free corridor” through Canada. That makes the coasts much, much more likely. ”

    That was the gist of the book I mentioned Lost World. They went into detail about the 2 ice sheets covering North America and how there was no path down the middle.

    [...]

    The Cordilleran and Laurentide Ice Sheets were fully separated by 14.5 kya. Beringia, including large areas of Siberia and Alaska, never glaciated. And, as you pointed out, the coastal route was also intermittently open enough for island/beach hopping long before the Alberta route opened up.

    On the other hand, the Atlantic coastal route did not open up before 10-12 kya.

    Grey lensman on November 2, 2011 at 9:12 pm said:

    DNA Evidence, Haplogroup X is very clear and well documented plus the stone tool matching. Crete was occupied by pre-humans who used boats, long before modern man. The Extinct people of Tierra Del Fuego, were not only Australian they needed no clothes or shelter to live in that wild climate.

    [...]

    The only pre-Clovis human DNA identified to date (Paisley Caves, Oregon) “belonged to Native Americans in haplogroups A2 and B2, haplogroups common in Siberia and east Asia.”

    The highest modern concentration of Haplogroup X is found in the Druze of Lebanon. Traces of Haplogroup X in some modern American Indians, concentrated in the US Southwest, only provides evidence of an ancient connection to a rare haplotype found in Europe. It does not provide evidence of a migration from France to North America… http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1180497/

    The Mediterranean is not analogous to the North Atlantic. The lower sea levels of the LGM exposed and expanded many islands in the Mediterranean and the climate was relatively mild. There were no ice-free land areas along the Greenland or North American Atlantic coasts north of Nova Scotia and no glacially exposed islands from Iceland to the Grand Banks at the time of the Clovis/pre-Clovis migrations and the North Atlantic climate was a bit more harsh than the Mediterranean.

    As I’ve previously posted, the data don’t preclude the Solutrean hypothesis; they just don’t support it.

    There is no DNA evidence indicative of an Australian aboriginal linkage.

  96. David Middleton says:

    @Bill Illis, November 2, 2011 at 7:39 pm & DesertYote, November 2, 2011 at 8:51 pm…

    [...]
    When the climate warmed, and more rain fell, and more forests grew back, the mega-grass-herbivores were naturally less in numbers. Throw in a stone age hunter who could take down animals with ease (with elaborate fencing and fire concentration zones and elaborate cliff jumps and meat cut preferences given the large number of animals available, and eventually atlatls and clovis spearpoint weapons), the mega-fauna’s death rates eventually overwhelmed the slow birth rates that mega-fauna have.

    I imagine a few other biological reasons like deseases brought in from Asia played a very large role.

    Another point is that all of the mega-fauna meat eaters were highly specialized hyper-carnivours. Man and the recently arriving grey wolf were not. Both are quite happy hunting big or small game, in woodland or on the plains. It is significant that man was quite capable of taking large game, but was not dependent on doing so.

    Yep. That was the point I tried to make earlier… Unlike Africa and South Asia, the megafauna, including the predators, lacked the sufficient habitat to get out of the way of human predation.

  97. D Marshall says:

    @Gail Combs What article has been “purged” from the internet?
    A search for “Frozen Mammoth” has your Graham Kendall link around 10th on the list of results while searching for “abrupt climate” has a link to a WHOI page in 3rd place (http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=12455) titled “Abrupt climate change” with an article listing in reverse chronological order and includes your Gagosian article.
    Searching for “abrupt climate change” puts the WHOI link above in 2nd place and a direct link to the Gagosian one in 3rd

  98. Spector says:

    One book that I found to be an interesting read was Harvard Professor Berry Fell’s “America BC” (1976) in which he argues that there was frequent trade contact between the west coast of Europe and the Americas in Pre-Christian times. He claims to have found and deciphered many interesting examples of an ancient form of European writing known as Ogam at various places in the Americas. Most archeologists dismiss these as random scratches. Dr. Fell claims that his interpretations would have been perfectly acceptable by academia if they were of European finds. Of course, that may mean that many of these European interpretations are also highly fanciful. I found the book, even if 100% bogus, to be a good read.

  99. beng says:

    *****
    E.M.Smith says:
    November 2, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Also saw a fascinating article (which link I’ve since lost) that did a great job of showing evidence for a large rock fall from space hitting the ice shield of N. America as causal of the extinctions and with ‘facts on the ground’ including secondary cratering in the Carolinas pointing toward the impact site in Canada (with some smaller spalling having caused impacts in the southwest, giving a southwest to north east trajectory of the swarm, impact into the ice, and secondary ejecta landing as far away as the Carolinas.) Did in most of the Clovis people too.
    *****

    And there’s quite a bit of geologic evidence for an impact, too:

    http://craterhunter.wordpress.com/notes-on-ignimbrite-emplacement/part-two/

  100. David Middleton says:

    Hg X is present in at least one Siberian population…
    The Presence of Mitochondrial Haplogroup X in Altaians from South Siberia

  101. David Middleton says:

    beng says:
    November 3, 2011 at 8:52 am
    [...]

    And there’s quite a bit of geologic evidence for an impact, too:

    http://craterhunter.wordpress.com/notes-on-ignimbrite-emplacement/part-two/

    That blog is 100% science fiction.

    There is nothing mysterious about the “Chihuahuan Ignimbrites”… And the rhyolitic eruptions from which they were sourced occurred in the Mid-Tertiary…

    Petrogenesis of voluminous mid-Tertiary ignimbrites of the Sierra Madre Occidental, Chihuahua, Mexico
    Maryellen Cameron, William C. Bagby and Kenneth L. Cameron
    Abstract
    The mid-Tertiary ignimbrites of the Sierra Madre Occidental of western Mexico constitute the largest continuous rhyolitic province in the world. The rhyolites appear to represent part of a continental magmatic arc that was emplaced when an eastward-dipping subduction zone was located beneath western Mexico.
    In the Batopilas region of the northern Sierra Madre Occidental the mid-Tertiary Upper Volcanic sequence is composed predominantly of rhyolitic ignimbrites, but volumetrically minor lava flows as mafic as basaltic andesite are also present.

    […]

    LINK

    Major ignimbrites and volcanic centers of the Copper Canyon area: A view into the core of Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental

    Eric R. Swanson, Kirt A. Kempter, Fred W. McDowell and William C. McIntosh
    Abstract
    Reconnaissance mapping along Copper Canyon highway has established ignimbrite stratigraphic relationships over a relatively large area in the central part of the Sierra Madre Occidental volcanic field in western Chihuahua, Mexico. The oldest ignimbrites are found in the central part of the area, and they include units previously mapped from north of the study area, in and around the Tomóchic volcanic complex. Copper Canyon, at the southern end of the study area, exposes younger units, including the intracaldera tuff of the Copper Canyon caldera and five overlying ignimbrites. Well-exposed calderas are found near San Juanito, in the central part of the map area, and at Sierra Manzanita, to the far north. Stratigraphic evidence for yet another caldera in the northern part of the area is found in the Sierra El Comanche. The stratigraphic and limited available isotopic age data suggest that volcanism was particularly active ∼30 m.y. ago. This reconnaissance survey also documented lava-flow lithologies consistent with previous observations from Tomóchic that intermediate lavas have erupted throughout that area’s volcanic history and that basaltic andesite became particularly abundant as felsic volcanism waned.

    […]

    LINK

    Even if the mid-Tertiary ignimbrites of the Sierra Madre Occidental of western Mexico were caused by an extraterrestrial impact event, it would have happened ~30 million years prior to the extinction of the North American megafauna.

  102. Dennis Cox says:

    There is no such thing as imortality. Even the rocks of the Earth crumble to dust after few million years of exposure to the elements. Would you have us believe the vast ignimbrite sheets of North Central Mexico have remained undisturbed on the surface, and as pristine as the day they first cooled for more than 30 million years?. And for far longer than it has taken the Colorado River to gouge the Grand Canyon?

  103. Dennis Cox says:

    I should also point out that the hypothesis described in the Craterhunter blog is focused on the ignimbrite sheets of the Chihuahuan desert in the region between the Sierra Madre Occidental, and Sierra Madre Oriental. And not the volcanic deposits of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains.

  104. David Middleton says:

    Dennis Cox says:
    November 3, 2011 at 11:15 am
    I should also point out that the hypothesis described in the Craterhunter blog is focused on the ignimbrite sheets of the Chihuahuan desert in the region between the Sierra Madre Occidental, and Sierra Madre Oriental. And not the volcanic deposits of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains.

    Where do you and Crater Hunter think tuff comes from?

  105. David Middleton says:

    Dennis Cox says:
    November 3, 2011 at 11:07 am
    There is no such thing as imortality. Even the rocks of the Earth crumble to dust after few million years of exposure to the elements. Would you have us believe the vast ignimbrite sheets of North Central Mexico have remained undisturbed on the surface, and as pristine as the day they first cooled for more than 30 million years?. And for far longer than it has taken the Colorado River to gouge the Grand Canyon?

    Pristine? Undisturbed?

  106. Gary Pearse says:

    So-called indigenous peoples of the America’s (as far as I know) have dark hair and eyes. Are some of you suggesting that only swarthy Northern Europeans took to the kayaks and crossed the Atlantic. You blue-eyed pillagers did get into the act 11,000 years or so later but, comon! Also, Greenland itself was colonized by Inuit some 4500 to 5000 years ago (it took a few thousand for them to work their way eastward from western NA. How come they didn’t run in to Blue-eyed Gringos from Europe when they got there? Has anyone done any DNA testing to discount this fanciful cluttering of pre-history.

  107. Dennis Cox says:

    Even after I specifically point out that the area of study described in the Craterhunter blog is not in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains, someone still feels the need to post a picture from there.

    I get a kick out of folks trying to tell me that the Copper Canyon Tuff is the same geologic material as the pristine radial outwards flowing pyroclastic density current surrounding the mountain a couple of hundred miles away at 29.703101, –105.686395. 

    But folks should note that while the mountain is clearly the source location for the pristine radial curtain of pyroclastic materials, there is no vent there. It is not an ancient, eroded, volcanic structure.

    Whatever produced that radial curtain of pristine pyroclastic materials, it wasn’t terrestrial volcanism.

  108. Rational Debate says:

    And here I’d thought the “clovis first” meme had been overturned and dropped a number of years ago, based on several different lines of evidence! It is gratifying to see someone with a find such as Dr. Gustafson vindicated publically after all he was put thru.

    I have many comment yet to read, so perhaps some of my following comments are already mentioned or addressed there.

    As to the actual migration path that peopled the America’s – it seems to me that is still speculative, and there appear to be a number of different theories, each with associated advantages and drawbacks (see copied bit from the notoriously-inaccurate-but-oh-so-convenient-wikipedia below). To David Middleton – I was under the impression that so far geologists/specialists thought that the first time there had been open ground across the Bering land bridge and down into the main N. Am. continent was approx. 13,000 years ago. Pushing the time of migration back several thousand years would have meant the only route would have been over large distances of glacier – I find that far more difficult to believe than a sea route. Is there any evidence of an open pathway earlier?

    I have to say the claims of primarily human caused megafauna extinctions are sheer speculation with little foundation. If one wants to use that idea, one also has to explain why elephants, lions, tigers, bears, elk, moose, bison, cougar, horses, camels, etc., all survived in very large numbers in various regions along the currently believed human migration routes. Perhaps the most difficult to explain is how elephants, camels, lions and other large mammels survived in Africa itself where human populations would have been the largest and longest established. Or, since humans migrating across the Bering land bridge would have first gone thru Asia, how tigers and elephants, etc. survived there.

    There are reams of unexplained extinctions where it seems we can find little solid evidence for why those extinctions occurred – why, when there was so little difference and if anything it appears several other human like species were stronger and had larger brains, did Neaderthals, Denosovians, etc. go extinct while we didn’t? They were similar enough to us that we even successfully interbred with them, and gained from it (better immune systems), according to current DNA results.

    It seems far better, to me, to simply state that the cause of these extinctions is unknown and there are conflicting theories as to what may have contributed to their extinction – rather than to make fairly definitive statements that can’t be substantiated and are highly speculative.

  109. Rational Debate says:

    re: Gary Pearse says: November 3, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    So-called indigenous peoples of the America’s (as far as I know) have dark hair and eyes. Are some of you suggesting that only swarthy Northern Europeans took to the kayaks and crossed the Atlantic….

    Gary, it’s believed from extensive DNA studies that the mutation causing blue eyes and blond hair first appeared roughly 10,000 years ago – and spread slowly. Prior to that, everyone had dark hair and eyes. So, for the timeframes currently believed involved in first migrations to the America’s, yep, apparently any N. Europeans who took to whatever type of boat they used to make their way over here would have had dark hair and eyes.

  110. Rational Debate says:

    I meant to include the bit from Wikipedia beow in my November 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm post.
    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Settlement_of_the_Americas#Watercraft_migration_theories

    ….Watercraft migration theories

    Earlier finds have led to a pre-Clovis culture theory encompassing different migration models with an expanded chronology to supersede the “Clovis-first” theory.

    Pacific coastal models
    Main article: Coastal Migration

    Pacific models propose that people reached the Americas via water travel, following coastlines from northeast Asia into the Americas. Coastlines are unusually productive environments because they provide humans with access to a diverse array of plants and animals from both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. While not exclusive of land-based migrations, the Pacific ‘coastal migration theory’ helps explain how early colonists reached areas extremely distant from the Bering Strait region, including sites such as Monte Verde in southern Chile and Taima-Taima in western Venezuela. Two cultural components were discovered at Monte Verde near the Pacific Coast of Chile. The youngest layer is radiocarbon dated at 12,500 radiocarbon years (~14,000 cal BP)[citation needed] and has produced the remains of several types of seaweeds collected from coastal habitats. The older and more controversial component may date back as far as 33,000 years, but few scholars currently accept this very early component.[citation needed]

    Other coastal models, dealing specifically with the peopling of the Pacific Northwest and California coasts, have been advocated by archaeologists Knut Fladmark, Roy Carlson, James Dixon, Jon Erlandson, Ruth Gruhn, and Daryl Fedje. In a 2007 article in the Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, Erlandson and his colleagues proposed a corollary to the coastal migration theory—the kelp highway hypothesis—arguing that productive kelp forests supporting similar suites of plants and animals would have existed near the end of the Pleistocene around much of the Pacific Rim from Japan to Beringia, the Pacific Northwest, and California, as well as the Andean Coast of South America. Once the coastlines of Alaska and British Columbia had deglaciated about 16,000 years ago, these kelp forest (along with estuarine, mangrove, and coral reef) habitats would have provided an ecologically similar migration corridor, entirely at sea level, and essentially unobstructed.

    Southeast Asians: Paleoindians of the Coast

    The boat-builders from Southeast Asia may have been one of the earliest groups to reach the shores of North America. One theory suggests people in boats followed the coastline from the Kurile Islands to Alaska down the coasts of North and South America as far as Chile [2 62; 7 54, 57]. The Haida nation on the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of British Columbia may have originated from these early Asian mariners between 25,000 and 12,000. Early watercraft migration would also explain the habitation of coastal sites in South America such as Pikimachay Cave in Peru by 20,000 years ago and Monte Verde in Chile by 13,000 years ago [6 30; 8 383].

    “‘There was boat use in Japan 20,000 years ago,’ says Jon Erlandson, a University of Oregon anthropologist. ‘The Kurile Islands (north of Japan) are like stepping stones to Beringia,’ the then continuous land bridging the Bering Strait. Migrants, he said, could have then skirted the tidewater glaciers in Canada right on down the coast.” [7 64]‘

    Atlantic coastal model

    Archaeologists Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley champion the coastal Atlantic route. Their Solutrean Hypothesis is also based on evidence from the Clovis complex, but instead traces the origins of the Clovis toolmaking style to the Solutrean culture of Ice Age Western Europe.[69] The theory suggests that early European people (or peoples) may have been among the earliest settlers of the Americas.[70][71] Citing evidence that the Solutrean culture of prehistoric Europe may have provided the basis for the tool-making of the Clovis culture in the Americas, the theory suggests that Ice Age Europeans migrated to North America by using skills similar to those possessed by the modern Inuit peoples and followed the edge of the ice sheet that spanned the Atlantic. The hypothesis rests upon particular similarities in Solutrean and Clovis technology that have no known counterparts in Eastern Asia, Siberia or Beringia, areas from which, or through which, early Americans are known to have migrated. The theory is largely discounted by most professionals for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the differences between the two tool making traditions far outweigh the similarities, the several thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean and the 5000 year span that separate the two different cultures.[72][73] Genetic studies of Native American populations have also shown the Solutrean theory to be unlikely, showing instead that the 5 main mtDNA haplogroups found in the Americas were all part of one gene pool migration from Asia.[74]

    Problems with evaluating coastal migration models

    The coastal migration models provide a different perspective on migration to the New World, but they are not without their own problems. One of the biggest problems is that global sea levels have risen over 100 metres since the end of the last glacial period, and this has submerged the ancient coastlines which maritime people would have followed into the Americas. Finding sites associated with early coastal migrations is extremely difficult—and systematic excavation of any sites found in deeper waters is challenging and expensive. If there was an early pre-Clovis coastal migration, there is always the possibility of a “failed colonization.” Another problem that arises is the lack of hard evidence found for a “long chronology” theory. No sites have yet produced a consistent chronology older than about 12,500 radiocarbon years (~14,500 calendar years)[citation needed], but South America has still seen only limited research on the possibility of early coastal migrations.

  111. David Middleton says:

    Dennis Cox says:
    November 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm
    Even after I specifically point out that the area of study described in the Craterhunter blog is not in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains, someone still feels the need to post a picture from there.

    I get a kick out of folks trying to tell me that the Copper Canyon Tuff is the same geologic material as the pristine radial outwards flowing pyroclastic density current surrounding the mountain a couple of hundred miles away at 29.703101, –105.686395.

    But folks should note that while the mountain is clearly the source location for the pristine radial curtain of pyroclastic materials, there is no vent there. It is not an ancient, eroded, volcanic structure.

    Whatever produced that radial curtain of pristine pyroclastic materials, it wasn’t terrestrial volcanism.

    What “radial curtain of pristine pyroclastic materials?”

    Enough with the Erik Van Danniken stuff already… The NE striking ridge that you seem to be focusing on is Cretaceous limestone & shale. Have you ever even looked at a geologic map of the region? The stuff surrounding it is Quaternary alluvium.

    More Geology vs. Mythology

    There are lots of volcanic and igneous outcrops in the area… All of them of Tertiary age and most rhyolitic… None of them are even remotely associated with impact-related geology.

  112. Rational Debate says:

    Even tho I posted info on other possible migration routes, I believe that so far, genetic studies would support either Bering land bridge migration or sea coast/boat migration from Asia/Siberia. For example: http://csfa.tamu.edu/who.php (which I haven’t read completely, but it does have info on some of the genetics studies that have been done so far – not sure how current it is, however).

  113. David Middleton says:

    @Dennis Cox…

    Quaternary alluvium is dirt… Your “ejecta curtain” is composed of dirt.

    The “V-shaped excavations” (AKA arroyos) were cut by intermittent streams of water eroding through tilted sedimentary rocks.

    You have misinterpreted simple Basin & Range-type geology as some sort of bizarre impact event.

    This is funny stuff!

  114. David Middleton says:

    @Rational Debate, November 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm…

    Yep. The evidence doesn’t preclude other scenarios; but it only supports entry from Beringia via the coastal and/or inland routes.

  115. Gail Combs says:

    Mike McMillan says:
    November 2, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Regarding African megacritter survival –

    The elephants and rhinos lived out on the savannah, where humans would be prey to the large solitary and pack carnivores (lions, hyenas) that were wise enough to leave elephants alone. Hippopotamuses lived in crocodile-infested water, and were themselves big time killers of man, so the ancient Egyptians avoided them. Basically, man was as much prey as predator in Africa.

    That wasn’t the case in the New World, where the only pack predators were wolves, which we domesticated to protect us from the undomesticated carnivores.
    __________________________________
    HUH???
    I know darn well there were cave bear because I have a tooth found in Alabama.

    The “saber-toothed tiger,” Smilodon, is the California State Fossil and the second most common fossil mammal found in the La Brea tar pits….
    Smilodon is a relatively recent sabertooth, from the Late Pleistocene. It went extinct about 10,000 years ago. Fossils have been found all over North America and Europe. Smilodon fossils from the La Brea tar pits include bones that show evidence of serious crushing or fracture injuries, or crippling arthritis and other degenerative diseases. Such problems would have been debilitating for the wounded animals. Yet many of these bones show extensive healing and regrowth indicating that even crippled animals survived for some time after their injuries. How did they survive? It seems most likely that they were cared for, or at least allowed to feed, by other saber-toothed cats. Solitary hunters with crippling injuries would not be expected to live long enough for the bones to heal. Smilodon appears to have lived in packs and had a social structure like modern lions…..

    http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/mammal/carnivora/sabretooth.html

    In my reading somewhere, I came across a comment about the major increase in wolves because of the American governments bison killing policy. (U.S. government’s weapon against the Plains Indian tribes by destroying their primary food source.) Hides were taken and the bodies were left for predators until only a small herd in Yellowstone was left.

    If there was a change in climate killing off many of the herbivores over a relatively short period (a few decades) then you may have seen an explosion in the predator numbers from the easy meals followed by a hunting to extinction of the remaining herds after the “easy” food was no longer available.

    The mammoths found frozen with grass in the mouth and stomach certainly points to a drastic and quick change in climate as does the Younger Dryas stadial.

    I think the problem was a quick change in climate (loss of pasture) which could also weaken the herds and promote disease, and an increase in hunting pressure on a dwindling and weaker herd. Note that the Article I linked to earlier analysed the Mammoth and contrary to popular belief they were not an “Arctic” animal and the hair was unsuited to snow.

    HAIR. The mammoth’s hairy coat no more implies an Arctic
    adaptation than a woolly coat does for a sheep. The mammoth lacked
    erector muscles that fluff-up an animal’s fur and creates
    insulating air pockets. Neuville, who conducted the most detailed
    study of the skin and hair of the mammoth, wrote: “It appears to
    me impossible to find, in the anatomical examination of the skin
    and [hair], any argument in favor of adaptation to the cold.”30
    The long hair on a mammoth’s legs hung to its toes.31 Had it
    walked in snow, snow and ice would have caked on its hairy
    “ankles.” Each step into and out of snow would have pulled or worn
    away the “ankle” hair. All hoofed animals living in the Arctic,
    including the musk ox, have fur, not hair, on their legs.32 Fur,
    especially oily fur, holds a thick layer of stagnant air (an
    excellent insulator) between the snow and skin. With the mammoth’s
    greaseless hair, much more snow would touch the skin, melt, and
    increase the heat transfer 10 – 100 fold. Later refreezing would
    seriously harm the animal.

    SKIN. The skin of the mammoth and elephant are very similar in
    thickness and structure.33 Both lack oil glands, making them
    vulnerable to cold, damp climates. Today, it appears that all
    Arctic mammals have both oil glands and erector musclesãequipment
    absent in the mammoths.34…

    http://www.grahamkendall.net/Unsorted_files-2/A312-Frozen_Mammoths.txt

  116. Gail Combs says:

    D Marshall says:
    November 3, 2011 at 6:55 am

    @Gail Combs What article has been “purged” from the internet?

    Abrupt Climate Change: Should We Be Worried? – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution” http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=12455&tid=282&cid=9986

    The link will come up but the article is not the same. It has been Globull Warmilized.

    I hate it when they do that!

  117. Grey lensman says:

    Ignoring haplogroup X ans French cutting edge technology is not Science. Nor is the putting forward of Strawman Arguments re blue eyes. The early southern Europeans were not blue eyed.

    Failure to address the Boneyards and Clovis layer is also surprising as a lot of rich data can be found there.

    But thats what science is about, debate, claim and counter claim which throws up more ideas and links, which this post is rich with. Thanks guys.

    Kennewick Man, poor soul why do they so fear you.

  118. Gail Combs says:

    David Middleton says:
    November 3, 2011 at 6:32 am

    …..The highest modern concentration of Haplogroup X is found in the Druze of Lebanon. Traces of Haplogroup X in some modern American Indians, concentrated in the US Southwest, only provides evidence of an ancient connection to a rare haplotype found in Europe…..
    _______________________________

    The wiki [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_X_%28mtDNA%29%5D article shows the Haplogroup X as also concentrated on the east coast of N. America as well as in the Druze of Lebanon.

    I resemble my grandfather, a Druze of Lebanon and I am forever getting people who say I look exactly like their cousin a Cherokee or what ever. I guess now I can tell them I am “distantly” related. chuckle.

  119. David Middleton says:

    Haplogroup X is also present in Siberia… http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1226041/

    Its trace presence is not evidence of a Transatlantic migration from France to North America 11-24 kya.

  120. Grey lensman says:

    Sprit Cave Mummy

    Suggest you also look up Mummies of the Takla Makkan, In China, That shows possibly why Haplogroup X shows up there as well.

  121. Grey lensman says:

    I dont take Wiki as a definitive source but it can provide reasonable background information.

    Quote

    Haplogroup X is also one of the five haplogroups found in the indigenous peoples of the Americas.[6] Although it occurs only at a frequency of about 3% for the total current indigenous population of the Americas, it is a bigger haplogroup in northern North America, where among the Algonquian peoples it comprises up to 25% of mtDNA types.[7][8] It is also present in lesser percentages to the west and south of this area—among the Sioux (15%), the Nuu-Chah-Nulth (11%–13%), the Navajo (7%), and the Yakama (5%).[9]

    Unlike the four main Native American mtDNA haplogroups (A, B, C, D), and the Y-chromosome sub-haplogroup Q1a3a, X is not at all strongly associated with East Asia. The main occurrence of X in Asia discovered so far is in the Altay people in Southwestern Siberia,[10] and detailed examination[4] has shown that the Altaian sequences are all almost identical (haplogroup X2e), suggesting that they arrived in the area probably from the South Caucasus more recently than 5,000 BP.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_X_%28mtDNA%29

    unquote

    So it seems that Haplogroup X only makes up 3% of the total original American continental population must is a much larger percentage of North American rising to 25% in one major tribe.

    Its there, its substantial ,you cannot ignore it. How did it get there.

  122. Spector says:

    One thing to keep in mind when speaking of evidence of early ‘Caucasian’ peoples in America is that there is good reason to believe that the lack of solar-protective skin coloration that is now considered to be the hallmark of this racial group did not develop until wheat farming was introduced in the Baltic area. It is thought that this diet may have caused a endemic serious vitamin D deficiency condition to develop that forced the extreme shedding of solar-protective skin coloration (especially in winter) to maximize the production of vitamin D from sunlight.

    MailOnline
    White Europeans ‘only evolved 5,500 years ago after food habits changed’

    By Daily Mail Reporter
    Last updated at 2:58 PM on 31st August 2009

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1210056/White-Europeans-evolved-5-500-years-ago-food-habits-changed.html

    “One recent study in the U.S found that nearly half of African American women of childbearing age may be deficient in vitamin D.”

  123. David Middleton says:

    Examination of the distribution of the four founding lineage haplotypes (A, B, C, and D) in American Indian populations (both contemporary and ancient) shows that all four lineages were present in the New World prior to European contact (Wallace 1995; Lalueza et al. 1997; Stone and Stoneking 1998), thus indicating that all American Indian mtDNAs are apparently descended from these four founding lineages.

    [...]

    A striking example of the presence in American Indians of genotypes not from haplogroups A–D is haplogroup X. This haplogroup represents a minor founding lineage that is restricted in distribution to northern Amerindian groups, including the Ojibwa, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth, the Sioux, and the Yakima, as well as the Na Dene–speaking Navajo (Brown et al. 1998). Unlike haplogroups A–D, haplogroup X is also found at low frequencies of ~4% in western Eurasian populations. Despite a shared consensus RFLP haplotype, substantial genetic differences exist between the American Indian and European haplogroup X mtDNAs. Phylogenetic analysis and coalescence estimates for American Indian and European haplogroup X mtDNAs exclude the possibility that the occurrence of haplogroup X in American Indians is due to recent European admixture. They also clearly indicate that the two branches/subgroups are distantly related to each other and that considerable genetic substructure exists within both groups (Brown et al. 1998).

    Haplogroup X is remarkable in that it has not been found in Asians, including Siberians, suggesting that it may have come to the Americas via a Eurasian migration. The virtual absence of haplogroup X in eastern and northern Asia raises the possibility that some American Indian founders were of European ancestry. In that case, as it has been proposed, haplogroup X was brought to America by the eastward migration of an ancestral white population, of which no trace has so far been found in the mtDNA gene pool of modern Siberian/eastern Asian populations (Brown et al. 1998).

    [...]

    To extend the survey of Asian mtDNAs for the presence of haplogroup X, we screened the mtDNAs of a total of 790 individuals for the RFLP markers (−1715 DdeI, −10394 DdeI, +14465 AccI, and +16517 HaeIII) that define this lineage. These individuals comprised 10 aboriginal Siberian populations: Buryats (n=105), Tuvinians (n=111), Koryaks (n=35), Evens (n=65), Yakuts (n=62), Khakassians (n=54), Shors (n=42), Sojots (n=34), Altaians (n=202), and Evenks (n=80). All individuals belonged to the indigenous population of the regions studied, were unrelated, and stated that their maternal grandmother had been born in the area considered for this study.

    Haplogroup X mtDNAs were detected only in Altaians, at a frequency of 3.5%. The haplogroup X status of these haplotypes was confirmed through HVSI and HVSII mtDNA sequencing (). All Altaian X mtDNAs harbored the consensus haplogroup X motif…

    [...]

    The network suggests that European and American Indian haplogroup X mtDNAs are separated into two major branches, whereas the majority of Altaian X mtDNAs appear to be very similar to the root of haplogroup X phylogeny, differing from it by one step (loss of 225A). The network further suggests that the Altaian X haplotypes occupy the intermediate position between European and American Indian haplogroup X mtDNA lineages (Fig. 1).

    [...]

    The Altai region was populated during the Lower Paleolithic, and there is ample evidence of settlement during the Middle Paleolithic. It was proposed by anthropologists that, at least from the Neolithic, the territories of Altai and Sayan region were populated by mixed tribes with Caucasoid and Mongoloid anthropological features, but later they were replaced by Mongoloid populations of central Asian origin (Alexeev and Gohman 1984). The analysis of the tribal structure of Southern Altaians has shown that the present-day Altaians have retained their native language and ethnic identity. They have begun to mix with other ethnic groups (mostly Russians and Kazakhs) only recently, so the interethnic admixture is estimated to be <5% (Luzina 1987; Osipova et al. 1997). The haplogroup X mtDNAs have not been found in populations of central Asia, including Kazakhs, Uighurs, and Kirghizs (Comas et al. 1998). Since the frequency of haplogroup X in Russians is extremely low (3 of 336; Orekhov et al. 1999; Malyarchuk and Derenko 2000; authors’ unpublished data), the recent European admixture cannot explain the presence of haplogroup X in the Altaians. Hence, the results of the present study allow us to suggest that haplogroup X was the part of the ancestral gene pool for Altaian populations, being found both in northern and southern Altaians.

    Recently, the mtDNA studies have shown that both northern and southern Altaians exhibit all four Asian and American Indian–specific haplogroups (A–D) with frequencies of 57.2% (Sukernik et al. 1996) and 46.8% (Derenko et al. 2000a), respectively, exceeding those reported previously for Mongolians, Chinese, and Tibetans. Therefore, they may represent the populations which are most closely related to New World indigenous groups.

    [...]

    Derenko et al., 2001

    While this doesn’t eliminate the possibility that Altaian X could have arrived in Siberia later than in North America, it is far more likely that Altaian X was the source of Amerindian X.

  124. Caleb says:

    Much of the stuff involving long-ago people passes through a filter of our modern prejudices, and in the end makes me laugh. The actual science is scanty at best. Over that we put wonderful conjecture, which is not science, but more like social science.

    I have a distrust towards some of the conclusions people leap to, using DNA. We have only just begun to understand that science, and in its current form it is pretty crude. For example, consider the following:

    With each generation, you double the number of forefathers you have. You have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, and so forth. Assuming people marry young, you can fit 5 generations in a century. Go back to the year 1600, and you have 20 generations. Do the math.

    Every living person has 1,042,176 Great x 17 grandparents. Rather than getting back to Adam and Eve, you get back to a point where the entire population of earth was hard at work creating only one of you. You can get pretty vain, if you think about it.

    Twenty generations ago, just one of my 1,042,176 Great x 17 grandparents was a sailor who twice visited the isolated island of Gfryxt. The first time he was young, and subject to moral failures when he’d been at sea for months and saw a woman, and the second time he was captain of a ship hit hard by scurvy, and needed a crew. The first time the island had a large population, but the second time it had only a few survivors, as it had been ravaged by introduced tonsillitis. Without knowing it, one deck-hand he picked up was his own son, who later settled down and wound up owning an Inn in Cornwall.

    Now, according to my Great x 17 grandfather, the people of Gfryxt had unique DNA, because they were so isolated. They had purple skin, red eyes, green hair, were seven feet tall, and had seven fingers on each hand. What? You think that is just a sailor’s yarn? Well, check out my DNA.

    What? You cannot tell if I am part Gfryxtian? Your test isn’t sensitive enough to measure if a person is one 1,042,176th of a certain race? Well! If you can’t even go back to the year 1600, what use are you?

  125. Grey lensman says:

    This gets better and more interesting. To Say That Altai X came with Asians via the Bering straight tunnel is a bit like Trenberths missing heat. Not a trace in Siberia, Alaska or western states and then reappears like magic on the East and central USA No trail.

    But the owners of Haplogroup X in the Eastern USA use the same technology as the French Halogroup X owners i would suggest that is not co-incidence.

    I would suggest that this is the oldest, it migrated west, occupied Southern France and Then used Ice to get to USA. Those that remained mutated to more European style X. I cannot prove that but it does make more sense to me. Dont forget that both Asian And European have the same roots.

    Ainu is Caucasoid and reflects an eastern migration of developing caucasian genes.

  126. Grey lensman says:

    Pity we cannot spend more money on this and research the question, the data and some of the potential interesting sources rather than on Globull warming and Ice Cracks,

    Sounds like Dave and i could put together a project any funders?

  127. David Middleton says:

    Grey lensman says:
    November 4, 2011 at 4:57 am
    Pity we cannot spend more money on this and research the question, the data and some of the potential interesting sources rather than on Globull warming and Ice Cracks,

    Sounds like Dave and i could put together a project any funders?

    GL, that would be fun… But I already don’t have enough “hobby time” for Quaternary geology, ice cores, plant stomata and marine geochemistry… ;)

  128. beng says:

    ****
    David Middleton says:
    November 3, 2011 at 9:56 am

    beng says:
    November 3, 2011 at 8:52 am
    [...]

    And there’s quite a bit of geologic evidence for an impact, too:

    http://craterhunter.wordpress.com/notes-on-ignimbrite-emplacement/part-two/

    That blog is 100% science fiction.
    *****

    If you click on the many links on that site (some lead to several other researchers’ evidence), there’s far more evidence than just in Mexico. Minnesota, adjacent Canada & New Mexico just for example.

  129. David Middleton says:

    Grey lensman says:
    November 4, 2011 at 4:46 am
    This gets better and more interesting. To Say That Altai X came with Asians via the Bering straight tunnel is a bit like Trenberths missing heat. Not a trace in Siberia, Alaska or western states and then reappears like magic on the East and central USA No trail.

    The Altaians are in Siberia. Their X haplotype is closer to the Amerindian than the European haplotype is. The Altaians have the same five haplotypes “the Ojibwa, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth, the Sioux, and the Yakima, as well as the Na Dene–speaking Navajo” – No other group is such a close match. The Atlaian haplotype plots in an intermediate position between Amerindians and Europeans.

    The only pre-Clovis human DNA identified in North America was found in Oregon and contains the A-D haplotypes; but lacks the X.

    But the owners of Haplogroup X in the Eastern USA use the same technology as the French Halogroup X owners i would suggest that is not co-incidence.

    Haplotype X is restricted to northern Amerindian groups; not eastern. I was mistaken earlier when I said it was concentrated in the southwest… I forgot that the Navajo didn’t start out in Arizona & New Mexico. The highest Amerindian X concentration is in the Ojibwa (the Chippewa) who were first encountered by Europeans (French missionaries) near Lake Superior ca. 1640.

    The Clovis and Solutrean blades share a lot of similarities; but they are not identical.

    The Solutrean culture (including their blades, spear points, sewing kits & tools) pretty well vanished from the European fossil record ~15 kya. The Clovis blade is not present in the North American fossil record prior to ~13.5 kya. The pre-Clovis blade that killed the mastodon, thus spearing the Clovis first theory, was neither Clovis nor Solutrean.

    I would suggest that this is the oldest, it migrated west, occupied Southern France and Then used Ice to get to USA. Those that remained mutated to more European style X. I cannot prove that but it does make more sense to me. Dont forget that both Asian And European have the same roots.

    Ultimately we all have the same roots.

    I can’t disprove a Solutrean migration along sea ice from France to the Grand Banks and then into Nova Scotia. The DNA patterns don’t exclude that possibility. Of course I can’t disprove a migration via Egyptian parasails or Atlantean motor yachts either… /sarc ;)

    Although, I can disprove Crater Hunter’s “Mexican Impact Zone” and “radial curtain of pristine pyroclastic materials.”

    Ainu is Caucasoid and reflects an eastern migration of developing caucasian genes.

    I don’t think so…

    Genetic origins of the Ainu inferred from combined DNA analyses of maternal and paternal lineages.
    Tajima A, Hayami M, Tokunaga K, Juji T, Matsuo M, Marzuki S, Omoto K, Horai S.
    SourceDepartment of Biosystems Science, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (Sokendai), Hayama, Kanagawa 240-0193, Japan.

    Abstract
    The Ainu, a minority ethnic group from the northernmost island of Japan, was investigated for DNA polymorphisms both from maternal (mitochondrial DNA) and paternal (Y chromosome) lineages extensively. Other Asian populations inhabiting North, East, and Southeast Asia were also examined for detailed phylogeographic analyses at the mtDNA sequence type as well as Y-haplogroup levels. The maternal and paternal gene pools of the Ainu contained 25 mtDNA sequence types and three Y-haplogroups, respectively. Eleven of the 25 mtDNA sequence types were unique to the Ainu and accounted for over 50% of the population, whereas 14 were widely distributed among other Asian populations. Of the 14 shared types, the most frequently shared type was found in common among the Ainu, Nivkhi in northern Sakhalin, and Koryaks in the Kamchatka Peninsula. Moreover, analysis of genetic distances calculated from the mtDNA data revealed that the Ainu seemed to be related to both the Nivkhi and other Japanese populations (such as mainland Japanese and Okinawans) at the population level. On the paternal side, the vast majority (87.5%) of the Ainu exhibited the Asian-specific YAP+ lineages (Y-haplogroups D-M55* and D-M125), which were distributed only in the Japanese Archipelago in this analysis. On the other hand, the Ainu exhibited no other Y-haplogroups (C-M8, O-M175*, and O-M122*) common in mainland Japanese and Okinawans. It is noteworthy that the rest of the Ainu gene pool was occupied by the paternal lineage (Y-haplogroup C-M217*) from North Asia including Sakhalin. Thus, the present findings suggest that the Ainu retain a certain degree of their own genetic uniqueness, while having higher genetic affinities with other regional populations in Japan and the Nivkhi among Asian populations.

  130. David Middleton says:

    beng says:
    November 4, 2011 at 6:15 am
    ****
    David Middleton says:
    November 3, 2011 at 9:56 am

    beng says:
    November 3, 2011 at 8:52 am
    [...]

    And there’s quite a bit of geologic evidence for an impact, too:

    http://craterhunter.wordpress.com/notes-on-ignimbrite-emplacement/part-two/

    That blog is 100% science fiction.
    *****

    If you click on the many links on that site (some lead to several other researchers’ evidence), there’s far more evidence than just in Mexico. Minnesota, adjacent Canada & New Mexico just for example.

    The Mexico bit isn’t evidence of anything other than Crater Hunter’s total ignorance of geology. I don’t have time to dig up geologic maps for every Google Earth image on his blog, upon which he has scribbled “ejecta curtain,” labled arroyos as “V-shaped excavations” and circled up round features that he thinks are astroblemes.

    Here’s a real astrobleme… Barringer Meteorite Crater

    Here’s a possible astrobleme… Upheaval Dome

  131. A G Foster says:

    Mr. Middleton, thanks for your post and patient responses, what with crop circles, biblical floods, etc. I’d like to back you up a little:

    Scientists have debated for decades the causes of megafauna extinction, divided between the climate and hunter camps, just as here. The fact remains that the big animals survived all climate reversals for millions of years, but within a speck of geological time after human arrival, they disappeared. If climate were the problem, we would expect their extinction to begin in the north and move southward. If hunters were the problem we would expect the reverse. And of course the latter is the case, with the latest surviving herds being in far northern islands! These also were finally killed off by hunters, as the landscape continued to warm. The climate argument has always been nonsense.

    It took the Mauri (Polynesians) a very short time to wipe out the elephant birds of New Zealand a thousand years ago. Easy pickings, just like mammoths, giant camels, etc.

    Disease? That’s a good one–a virus which favor only the biggest animals.

    MtDNA constitutes a tiny fraction of total DNA, and people of different races can have identical MtDNA. Tracing MtDNA can be helpful, but is of limited value. Polynesians are seen to have mated with women from New Guinea before colonizing the Pacific. Australians in Tierra del Fuego? Hardly, but the Amazonians look much more like Philipinos than Athabascans. Polynesian colonization of the Pacific is relatively recent, and they must have discovered the big continents more easily than Easter Island and Hawaii, but that also would have been relatively recent. But who knows how much earlier their ancestral seafarers might have fortuitously made a direct crossing, thousands of years earlier? Or should we suppose Phillipino types followed the coast before Mongolian types?

    By the way, this ground was covered a few months ago at WUWT in the context of meteoric catastrophe–about as likely as climate change. –AGF

  132. David Middleton says:

    @A G Foster,

    My assertion that the megafauna were hunted into extinction is partially “tongue-in-cheek.” Clearly, they weren’t literally hunted into extinction. Habitat shrinkage and disease were probably also factors. And climate change did play a role. Climate change brought humans into the Americas and the addition of human predators may have been the “tipping point” (Argh! I said tipping point)… The previous Pleistocene glacial cycles may have stressed the megafauna; but they were unable to handle that stress during the transition to the Holocene because of man’s entry into the Americas.

    To me the DNA evidence is pretty compelling – However, I freely admit to being fairly ignorant in the area of genetics… But the paleogeography and paleoclimatology of the Late Pleistocene are the most compelling evidence (IMO)… I think the Beringia entry is the only one that makes sense between the LGM and the Holocene.

  133. A G Foster says:

    The climatic conditions that coincided with the apparent colonization of the New World were hardly unprecedented. What was novel was the existence of technology that allowed humans to take advantage of those conditions. Aleut technology would easily allow Eskimos to colonize North America under the current climate, but that technology is fairly modern. There was evidently nothing like it during the last interstadial. It seems at least that the earliest Americans were better at adapting to cold than at crossing open seas. Unless of course, Philipino types got here first.

    On a clear day you can see across the Bering Strait, but reeds are nowhere and logs are in short supply. It helps to know how to make a kayak out of walrus hide. A dugout canoe is as good as a land bridge. So should we look to the climate or to the early distribution of canoes to predict the colonization of America? In other words, was it easier to sail or paddle to Japan or to Alaska?

    I still say the climate had nothing to do with the Pleistocene extinctions, even indirectly.
    –AGF

  134. mrrabbit says:

    I try not to get caught up too far into the details and get dragged into which way did they go and how, in some vain attempt at “Me first! They first!”…etc.

    For a very simple reason:

    1a. Dead evidence like dead men tell no tales.
    1b. Trying to draw conclusions beyond the evidence requires crossed fingers behind ones back.

    Anyone who tries to say they have the definitive answer as to where A and B were and whether or not they got to C and D and how, and then tries to tell others they are wrong is simply setting themselves up on a very shaky pedestal.

    Until the “dead evidence” comes to life, hops up onto two feet and speaks modern day English to Mr. Watts and says, “Beer started 35,000 years ago on the island of Niue”, all you have is your old copy of Jurassic Park to entertain yourself with.

    We do know the following on the basis of the evidence alone:

    1. Just about every distinguishable racial/ethnic/whathaveyou group DNA-wise that exists today has been elsewhere in the world way back when.

    2. Humans have been around longer than we used to think.

    3. There were rather large civilizations way back when – how large and how far they extended, traveled and traded is still “foggy”.

    4. People way back when did have ways of getting around – and you can’t rule out long distance ocean craft as a method.

    5. Then something big happened – and timescale-wise – it was quick too. Civilizations were isolated – many falling apart, and people, animals and vegetation died big time.

    #5 is what really gets me. Anytime I entertain that thought-wise – I know just right away it will likely happen again. Whether it be a sudden onset of an ice age, or an EU advocate mistakenly activates the Sun’s dimmer, or the Bugs throw an asteroid our way – the result is the same.

    Those who initially survive aren’t going to like their prospects. The suicide rate will increase 1000 fold.

    It’s at that point in thought I pick up another bicycle wheel and get started with finishing its build cause I’d rather focus on something else.

    Quit arguing arguing about what really happened people, leave that to Michael Rivero. You’ve got more important things to do…

    =8-)

  135. Spector says:

    The two recent WUWT “Little Bubbles” articles suggest that ice-core climate reconstructions need to be taken with a few grains of ‘air.’ Also, given the long period of prehistory, I think that it is hard to say with certainty that any recent non-durable device of simple hand construction or its equivalent has never been used before.

    Just for Reference:

    Haplogroup X (mtDNA)
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [with maps]
    “In human mitochondrial genetics, Haplogroup X is a human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup. It has a widespread global distribution but no major regions of distinct localization.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_X_(mtDNA)

    Altaic languages
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [with maps]
    “Altaic is a proposed language family that includes the Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, and Japonic language families and the Korean language isolate. …”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altaic_languages

    Altay people
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    “The Altay or Altai are an ethnic group of Turkic people living in the Siberian Altai Republic and Altai Krai and surrounding areas of Tuva and Mongolia.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altay_people

  136. Richard Aubrey says:

    Couple of comments: Robert Ardrey in “The Hunting Hypothesis” speculated that American fauna had no experience with humans and thus had not evolved what he called “flight distance”. In other words, it was easier to get close. So using Africa as an analog may not be accurate.
    There are only so many ways to chip flint or other stone. So it’s possible, ref Solutrean and Clovis, that it’s an accident.
    See Geoffrey Ashe “Land to The West” He investigates various pre-Columbian traditions as to their possible reference to trans-Atlantic travel. For example,he says the story of Brendan the Navigator, if purged of its religious elements, is a description of the northern sailing route to North America. Ashe speculates that the story writer took Brendan and his quest and inserted it into existing sailing directions, or vice versa. So the sailing was not noteworthy and, indeed, according to the story, every place Brendan went he found people like him already there, offering a place to eat, sleep, and hear Mass. This was considerably later than the travels discussed above but might be one answer to the existence of European DNA, unless analysis demonstrates it’s more than, say, five thousand years in North America.

  137. A G Foster says:

    Linguistic evidence ought to be taken into account. Tocharian A and B are scripts of a type of Indo-European language spokens in central Asia thousands of years ago. This constitutes more compelling evidence than MtDNA for early Caucasian migration westward, but it would be later than the MtDNA evidence suggests–after the dispersion of Proto-IndoEuropean, probably around 6000 years ago.

    But yeah, I’ll concede that climate might have affected the timing of American occupation–in the way that it might have hurried the rise of the Isthmus of Panama. But navigating humans were moving northward and would not have waited forever to cross over water to visible land.
    –AGF

  138. Spector says:

    Of course, it would be interesting if anyone ever found Pre-Viking evidence of domesticated European cereal crops being cultivated anywhere in the Americas.

  139. Grey lensman says:

    Dave, sorry about the late reply. I said Caucasoid not Caucasian a big difference. Ethnic groups are not so cut and dried as haplogroups. Also dont forget that Asian and European had common roots and thus each line must have subtle variations between them. Ainu being One. Reading your links, it does highlight the explosive nature of the research.

    As a matter of record I believe Bryan Sykes in his book, The Seven Daughters of Eve, mentioned the Ainu Caucasoid features.

    It is an evolving science, one that is giving us huge insights into real human history and migrations.

    Language has been mentioned above. I dont place much store in that. One simple example, the Finns, Europeans, Speak An Asiatic language. Human migration was not linear, it was more rolling thunder. One step forward, stop and be replaced by those behind. This is very clear in South East Asia with its ancient left behind populations.

    The evidence for a cosmic event ending the large mammals in the USA is very strong. I would suggest that the KT event that ended the dinosaurs was a massive event in a small area, hence the distribution of say micro diamonds but the Dryas event was possibly the same energy but spread over a much larger area, thus no micro diamonds.

    Referring to some posters, I agree appearances can be puzzling, the classic North American Indian does not look at all Chinese or North Asian.

  140. Rational Debate says:

    re: David Middleton says: November 4, 2011 at 8:33 am

    My assertion that the megafauna were hunted into extinction is partially “tongue-in-cheek.” Clearly, they weren’t literally hunted into extinction. Habitat shrinkage and disease were probably also factors. And climate change did play a role. Climate change brought humans into the Americas and the addition of human predators may have been the “tipping point” (Argh! I said tipping point)… The previous Pleistocene glacial cycles may have stressed the megafauna; but they were unable to handle that stress during the transition to the Holocene because of man’s entry into the Americas.

    To me the DNA evidence is pretty compelling – However, I freely admit to being fairly ignorant in the area of genetics… But the paleogeography and paleoclimatology of the Late Pleistocene are the most compelling evidence (IMO)… I think the Beringia entry is the only one that makes sense between the LGM and the Holocene.

    You may well be right on both of these points – I was objecting not to the possibility of these things, but to the definitive nature of your assertion when the issue is still up in the air and many discoveries yet await that could affect the overall picture of how we suspect things occurred so long ago. So it’s good to hear you say you had meant it ‘tongue in cheek.’ I see such definitive proclamations in paleo articles all the time, and it drive me crazy. You know, the “this amazing find is the oldest xyz that ever existed” when all that can really be said is “from what we’ve found so far, this appears to be the oldest…”

    I still have a really difficult time with all of the proposed megafauna extinction scenarios, especially hunting, primarily because of the other large animals that survived as I’ve mentioned before. I’ve no problem believing, however, that human hunting may have been one contributing cause. :0)

    On the DNA evidence… I LOVE genetics, always have, but am probably out of date somewhat wrt the latest on DNA related to populating the Americas. DNA paleo/forensics is still pretty new, especially with trying to date just when various population divisions occurred – so I always take these results with a large grain of salt. mtDNA, of course, is only passed down by the mother – you get your Mom’s mtDNA pretty much intact, while the tale male line of course is traced using the Y chromosome. Currently they believe they can estimate the typical mutation rate for various parts of DNA- haplotypes, mtDNA, Y chromosomes, etc., – and of course they compare the amount of recombination that’s occurred over time for haplotypes and to a much smaller extent the Y chromosome. So a few different methods wind up used to try to back calculate dates based on how many changes have occurred and what percentage of the largest gene pool is present in the population segment being studied.

    Ironic timing, but just ran across an MSM article saying that using DNA it looks as if the migration out of Africa may not have occurred through Egypt at all, but through Arabia first. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2057546/Early-humans-Africa-route-Arabia-Egypt.html

    And heck, if you want asteroids, well, in 5 days a very large asteroid, approx. 1300 ft. diameter, will pass us closer than the distance of the moon to Earth. YU55, which appears to be a carbon based asteroid no less (the type thought to possibly have seeded the very early Earth), will pass us about 200,000 miles out, and 150,000 miles at closest distance to the moon. Sure would have been nice if we were able to send astronauts to it, or at least an unmanned craft, to actually get some samples!!

  141. David Middleton says:

    @A G Foster,

    The Isthmus of Panama dates back to the Plio-Pleistocene transition. Its only role in this particular story is that it might have been one of the primary reasons for the Pleistocene being so much cooler than the Pliocene.

    @Grey lensman,

    There is no evidence of an asteroidal or meteoritic cause for the Younger Dryas, much less the destruction of the Laurentide ice sheet, as suggested by Crater Hunter.

    The Younger Dryas stadial was a wholly unremarkable recovery from a Dansgaard-Oeschger event. Now the D-O event itself, Bølling-Allerød interstadial, was anomalously warm, at least in the North Atlantic. If Solutreans crossed the Atlantic, the Bølling-Allerød interstadial would have been the time to go. The GISP2 temp’s indicate conditions approximation the LIA during the BAI.
    @Rational Debate,

    I am very liberal in my use of sarcasm (that and my use of profanity are my only liberal traits… And alcohol consumption… Three liberal traits). I often don’t clearly distinguish the sarcastic bits. I probably watched too much Monty Python and read too much Douglas Adams over the last 35 years.

  142. Gail Combs says:

    David Middleton says:
    November 3, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Haplogroup X is also present in Siberia… http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1226041/

    Its trace presence is not evidence of a Transatlantic migration from France to North America 11-24 kya.
    ______________________________________________
    What is surprising about Haplogroup X, is there are “hotspots” in the Druze of Lebanon, the Altaians of Southwestern Siberia, and the Algonquian people in the northeast of North America With Haplogroup X comprising “25% of mtDNA types.[7][8] [Algonquian] It is also present in lesser percentages to the west and south of this area—among the Sioux (15%), the Nuu-Chah-Nulth (11%–13%), the Navajo (7%), and the Yakama (5%).[9] “

    The Druze and Altaians are considered “isolated” populations maintaining their native identity and generally not mixing with other groups providing a sample snapshot of the genetic landscape prior to the modern age.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_X_%28mtDNA%29

    From this I gather the presence of Haplogroup X, indicates the “age” of colonization and the influence of mixing with other populations.

    It might indicate that South America and the southwest of North America was occupied first and a later migration carrying Haplogroup X from Siberia was “funneled” towards the northeast as new land opened up. Note the larger percentage of Haplogroup X in the Sioux (Wyoming, N & South Dakota, Nebraska) http://www.crystalinks.com/sioux.html

  143. Caleb says:

    I recall some evidence in a PBS show, thirty years ago, (IE before certain warm periods were downplayed,) which talked about the “oldest Native American Mound-builders,” and how they were way up in Newfoundland. They were apparently a sea-going people, as there were impressions of long-rotted swordfish bills in their mounds, and swordfish don’t drift ashore, because they sink when they die. What was most interesting was some sort of mini-stonehenges they built. At first the idea was floated that Druids traveled west, but dating of charcoal proved the mini-stonehenges were roughly 500 years older than the Big Stonehenge. Therefore the idea was floated that Indians discovered Europe. I can remember laughing, because when the PBS reporter pressed this idea, (as it makes a great headline,) the archeologist looked alarmed and said, “We can’t conclude that!”

  144. Mike D. says:

    In the last 50,000 years the Earth has lost over 100 genera of large mammals. Over 40 megafaunal species disappeared from North and South America. Many above have questioned whether humans could have caused these extinctions of megafauna. Two excellent science books discuss this issue:

    Martin, Paul S. (2005) Twilight of the Mammoths: Ice Age Extinctions and the Rewilding of America. Univ. of California Press. Reviewed here:

    http://westinstenv.org/histwl/2007/12/01/twilight-of-the-mammoths/

    Kay, Charles E., and Randy T. Simmons, eds. (2002) Wilderness and Political Ecology: Aboriginal Influences and the Original State of Nature. University of Utah Press. Reviewed here:

    http://westinstenv.org/wibio/2008/02/04/wilderness-and-political-ecology-aboriginal-influences-and-the-original-state-of-nature/

    The short story is that population dynamics are complex. Ice Age megafaunal populations, like modern herbivores, were not at carrying capacity — the maximum population allowed by food availability. Instead, prey populations are limited by predators, often at 10% or less of carrying capacity. When a new predator (paleo humans) entered the New World (and other previously un-manned ecosystems), the new predatory pressure drove herbivore populations below replacement thresholds, which were already being approached due to existing non-human predator pressure. The decline in prey populations impacted large predator populations, and they died out subsequently.

    Humans can switch prey when necessary. We can also survive on vegetable foods — we are the only animal that cooks, turning indigestible items into digestible food. (Cooking, btw, dates back at least 1.6 million years. That’s also about how long humanoids have been burning nature on purpose, i.e. altering carbon cycles.) So when prey populations fall to very low levels, humans eat something else, whereas sabertooth tigers starve to death.

  145. Diana Winsor says:

    Everyone above is so informed that I hesitate to mention another book: Mr Brouard’s Odyssey, by Diana Winsor, published by Polperro Press in 2004. I’m Diana Winsor, a journalist by trade, and I wrote Mr Brouard’s Odyssey for my father, whose ideas were incorporated in the book. He had been doing research for some 50 years about the origins of homo sapiens, and first wrote a book called Mermaids Ashore, which didn’t find a publisher, so I turned it into a ‘novel’. I wish I hadn’t; of course it wasn’t taken seriously. And he was just a civil servant and mechanical engineer – an amateur (like Mendel, Darwin etc I suppose). However I am always surprised by how many recent discoveries support his theories and indeed his evidence. I put the book away and have been doiing other things, but when my husband sent me this blog I thought I must mentioned my father’s ideas, as incorporated in the novel I wrote for him. He is dead now, but I did win the Spectator essay prize with a piece reminding people of how many such theorists weren’t recognised until after their death. Anyway, you may all be interested, so please to take a look – I think the book is still on Amazon and certainly available from the publisher, Polperro Heritage Press (google for results, and a bit of info about me, although I was just the fiction part of the book, or http://www.billbrouard.com

  146. Rational Debate says:

    re: Mike D. says: November 5, 2011 at 10:48 am

    … the new predatory pressure drove herbivore populations below replacement thresholds, which were already being approached due to existing non-human predator pressure. The decline in prey populations impacted large predator populations, and they died out subsequently….

    Which all sounds reasonable on the face of it, until you start thinking a bit more about things. Why were only some of the large herbivores driven to extinction? e.g., Mammoth, mastodon, etc., but not elephants?

    Why the odd distribution also, e.g., horses survived almost everywhere else, but not in America? Camels and elephants also survived elsewhere, but not in the Americas. Cave bears went extinct, but polar & brown bears did not? Sabertooths and dire wolves died out, but lions, tigers, cougars/mountain lions, leopards, wolves, coyote did not (maybe coyote too small to include in the comparison? minor issue).

    Then, even if predation drove prey animal replacement levels down, almost always what happens is as a result of prey being scarce, the predator population also beings dropping – litter size, IIRC, even drops before there’s any significant amount of obvious food scarcity. At some point, WAY before any risk of extinction, predator populations decrease as some of them starve, so those are removed from the breeding population… so the predator pop. decreases until there is sufficient prey to sustain the predators and as a result prey availability increases again. Even if you add humans as a new predator into the mix, this cycle should still have occurred – the other prey animals would have just had a more extreme decrease than if there were less competition – but not to the point of extinction.

    Particularly when you consider that prey animals switch the species they prey on also. As best I know, its extremely rare (non-existent?) for a carnivore to have only a single or extremely limited number of species it will feed on – particularly if food is scarce. Even if, for arguments sake, predation in the Americas drove mammoth, camels, and horses to extinction, the predators would have had all the other animals for prey also – elk, moose, deer, boar, bison, etc., etc. The more scarce mammoth, camels, and horses were, the less they’d be preyed on and the more the predators would be hunting elk, deer, moose, bison, etc., instead because they’d be far easier to find and far easier to obtain a meal from. Which would have given the mammoth, etc., a chance to recover. The same goes for man’s hunting – they’re not going to go 25 miles on foot to find a mammoth and cart it’s remains back to the tribe, when they can go 1 mile and pick off a ton of bison or deer…

    Plus, if predation/prey issues were the cause, then after the major predators went extinct, the fossil record ought to show an utter explosion in the population of the remaining herbivores (elk, bison, deer, etc). Is there any such evidence? I don’t recall ever hearing of anything that way, but could easily not be aware of it if something that way exists.

    Then we also have to explain why sabertooth and dire wolves were so affected by postulated prey decrease that they went extinct, but cougars and wolves didn’t….we’ll excuse bears here, because they’re more omnivorous too – but then we’ve still the problem of cave bears vs. other bear species, right?

    I use “we” in this because I certainly don’t have an answer or even a pet theory that I think is somehow more sound. It just sure seems to me that the primary theories that we’ve got right now have some really massive holes in them. Even if we contemplate problems in the Americas from an asteroid impact or something, there’s still the problem of why some of these species went extinct while others that are very similar and filled virtually the exact same ecological niches survived just fine.

    It’s a puzzle, that’s certain.

  147. A G Foster says:

    Again:

    1. When you kill a big animal you feed the whole tribe.
    2. The big animals all disappeared.
    3. Mammoths survived on the northernmost, most inhospitable islands–until humans arrived there too.
    4. Human populations will increase when big prey are easy food–until the prey grow scarse.
    5. Humans and dogs arrived suddenly on the New World scene. They did not evolve together with the big game as in Africa.
    6. When North and South America were connected, about 5MYA, mass extinction occurred due to the sudden mixing of species.
    7. Humans are the most dangerous predators of all, and there is no reason to suppose their appearance would not lead to multiple extinctions. It happened in Australia, New Zealand, in islands all over the world, and it happened in North America.
    8. The climate cause is a relic of the “noble savage” revived by modern alarmism. It’s a canard, but still more scientific than meteoric catastrophe.

    That’s what I think. –AGF

  148. MattP says:

    I’m not going to scroll up and see who mentioned this, but adult elephants have been most definitely been used as a food source by a number of African hunting peoples. Up until living memory. They used powerful bows, and more importantly powerful poisons on their arrows. And did do so for thousands of years.

    It wouldn’t have been the safest way to make a living. You certainly couldn’t make many mistakes while learning your trade. But East Africa wasn’t the safest place to try to make a living for several thousand years, so I suppose a little risk taking would have been unavoidable. And people have been making a wide variety of poisons from plant and animal sources for a long, long time. Precisely to mitigate some of the risk of hunting or warfare. Don’t underestimate just how effective their weaponry was, even on an animal as large as an elephant. Very effective as long as you were a good shot, and knew precisely where to put the arrow where it would have done the most good (or most harm, depending on your point of view). I believed they aimed for the liver.

  149. Keith Sketchley says:

    Two things strike me from my limited understanding of such debates:
    – there is little data, a bone or three here and there?
    – would someone please explain to me how a limited number of humans equipped with weapons made of bone (not iron) extinguished a whole bunch of animals? Would they even want that much food?
    I’m a version of Missourian on this one: “explain to me how ……”!

    Sounds more like imagination running off into the tulip fields./

    PS: Yeah, many of us tend to exaggerate – good to read David Middleton admitting that his “only viable pathway” should be “most likely pathway”, especially given my first point above.

    PPS: Amazing to me that feces can be identified, some claim (another “explain to me” moment). The TIGHAR anthropological work on a South Pacific island they theorize Amelia Earhart perished on may be of interest to interested persons.

  150. David Middleton says:

    @Keith Sketchley…

    It’s important to keep my “only viable pathway” in context…

    This “discovery” does not alter the fact that the original human inhabitants of the Americas most likely migrated into North America from Siberia across the Bering land bridge. It remains the only viable pathway. Pushing their migration back in time a few thousand years into the Pleistocene just means that the first wave arrived before the Bølling /Allerød interstadials during the Oldest Dryas instead of during the Younger Dryas.

    The article implied that the recent pre-Clovis discovery in Washington State somehow conflicted with the Beringia migration theory, which it did not. The recent discovery actually reinforces the Beringia migration theory. Thus far, no one has made a case that any other pathway was viable in the Late Pleistocene. We know for a fact that the Beringia pathway was viable.

    It’s also important to keep my “modern man migrated out of Africa and hunted the megafauna of Europe and North America into extinction” in context too…

    A previous post of mine, Run Away!!! The Anthropocene is Coming!!!, drew some criticism about my assertion “that modern man migrated out of Africa and hunted the megafauna of Europe and North America into extinction.” My comment was at least somewhat sarcastic… And yes, I do know that the human migration out of Africa began long before the Holocene, but, it is a simple fact that mastodons, stegodons and mammoths had “weathered” all of the prior Pleistocene glacial-interglacial cycles just fine. The only major distinction between the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene and the previous glacial-interglacial transitions was the migration of humans out of Africa, across the world and the demise of most of the mega fauna that were in the path of that migration…

    My intent was not to literally say that the megafauna were all killed with stone & bone tipped spears… But that the megafaunal extinction was pretty well coincident with the path and timing of the human migration. I’m sure that disease and habitat infringement played a role along with overkill… Asteroid and/or comet impacts might have also played a role; although evidence for these is extremely weak.

  151. A G Foster says:

    To Keith “Show Me” Sketchly:

    Not being an expert I can’t give you the exact tally of how the discovered mammoth carcasses are known to have died. At least one skeleton was found impregnated by a spear point. One pair of adult males died with their tusks locked in combat. Others died apparently caught in storms at the outset of encroaching ice, or having fallen into crevasses. It’s said that recent Siberians ate the meat of frozen mammoths.

    The fact that any mammoths are found to have been wounded or killed by humans strongly suggests that tens of thousands were hunted and killed–maybe millions. The notion that this was beyond the capacity of any population density should be weighed against the disappearance of a hundred billion passenger pigeons in the U.S. a century ago. These birds represent an extreme case. They nested on the ground in numbers so great that predators hardly made a dent in reproduction, but Americans brought their numbers below a safe threshhold, allowing predators to eliminate their nests.

    See David Quammen’s “Song of the Dodo,” where he explains how you don’t have to reduce a population to the point that animals don’t find mates, you just have to reduce the genetic variability to a point where adaptation becomes improbable, and inbreeding becomes a necessity. Of course inbreeding would be fortuitous when finding mates becomes difficult.

    The burden of proof is certainly placed on the doubters of extinction by hunting by the circumstance that the species survived in the most remote northern regions, most vulnerable to variable weather. This shows that mammoths could easily survive a winter without eating.

    Early Americans used the meat, hide and bone, so that skeletons were even less likely to survive to give evidence of hunting. A census must take this into account and the fact that ice is the best preservative. The skeleton might be less likely to survive the hunters than the serendipity of natural preservation. But the coincidence of human arrival and megafauna extinction is quite adequate to establish that mesolithic technology was sufficient to account for it in North America. Humans arrive; big game disappear. –AGF

  152. Spector says:

    RE: David Middleton says: (November 7, 2011 at 2:40 pm)
    “It’s also important to keep my “modern man migrated out of Africa and hunted the megafauna of Europe and North America into extinction” in context too…”

    I wonder if there was a unique Asian Megafauna population, which was also driven extinct. It seems only those animals similar to the African Megafauna now remain extant.

    BTW, I suspect that modern man, Homo sapiens, developed as a result of the rapid evolution of a small population that had been trapped in a restrictive and challenging environment. This could have been a small African offshore island or desert oasis.

  153. Diana Winsor says:

    Can’t resist entering this fascinating discussion again – especially following Spector’s comment about the development of modern man. Please take a look at my book Mr Brouard’s Odyssey or
    http://www.billbrouard.com. The latter was created by my brother for my father some time ago but it is worth reading – it has nothing to do with creationism which someone once said the website looked like – but is an anaylsis of his research. I just wish Dad was alive to participate in the debate. He would have relished it.
    I was/am a journalist and wirter, not an academic, so although I respected my father’s research and shared his enthusiasm, I just wrote things down. But please do have a look at his work. The book is on Amazon.

  154. Dr Ken Pollock says:

    Just in case others reading this blog have not had the chance to read Diana Winsor’s book about her father’s research – it is well worth the effort….Or look at the website she mentions for a summary of the basic ideas.
    Diana is right about Spector’s comment – the Indian ocean island group being inundated and stimulating a migration – by BOAT! Funny how the sea is never mentioned as a way of moving. Coastal migration is the easiest – but it will leave little or no records! Boats get broken up, sunk, rotted away but that does not mean they did not exist! And the sea is a constant source of food – and does not require adaptation to different species of plant and animal food.
    And why should there be one method only?
    If there is one comfort in all this, it is that the amateur is often right and the professional comes along later to explain how it happened scientifically. And then claim the credit…
    Chase the links and get hold of a copy of the book – it could change your perspective. It is in novel form but that just makes it easier to read and absorb – plus it is moving, as Diana has written it partially as a biography of her father, who comes alive in the pages.

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