From giant elephants to nimble gazelles: Early humans hunted the largest available animals to extinction for 1.5 million years

Peer-Reviewed Publication

TEL-AVIV UNIVERSITY

IMAGE: ELEPHANT HUNTING ILLUSTRATION view more C REDIT: DANA ACKERFELD
  • The study shows that humans always hunted the largest available animals until they became exceedingly rare or extinct, and then went on to target the next-largest. When only small animals remained in their environment, humans began to domesticate animals and developed agriculture.
  • The researchers hypothesize that technological advancements throughout human evolution were driven by the need to hunt progressively smaller and faster animals.
  • The researchers: “The study suggests that ever since the advent of humankind, humans have always ravaged their natural environment, but also found solutions for the problems they created. Damage to the environment, however, was often irreversible”.

A groundbreaking study by researchers from Tel Aviv University tracks the development of early humans’ hunting practices over the last 1.5 million years – as reflected in the animals they hunted and consumed. The researchers claim that at any given time early humans preferred to hunt the largest animals available in their surroundings, which provided the greatest quantities of food in return for a unit of effort.

In this way, according to the researchers, early humans repeatedly overhunted large animals to extinction (or until they became so rare that they disappeared from the archaeological record) and then went on to the next in size – improving their hunting technologies to meet the new challenge. The researchers also claim that about 10,000 years ago, when animals larger than deer became extinct, humans began to domesticate plants and animals to supply their needs, and this may be why the agricultural revolution began in the Levant at precisely that time.

The study was conducted by Prof. Ran Barkai and Dr. Miki Ben-Dor of the Jacob M. Alkow Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures, Prof. Shai Meiri of the School of Zoology and Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, and Jacob Dembitzer, a research student of Prof. Barkai and Prof. Meiri, who led the project. The paper was published in the prestigious scientific journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

The study, unprecedented in both scope and timespan, presents a comprehensive analysis of data on animal bones discovered at dozens of prehistoric sites in and around Israel. Findings indicate a continual decline in the size of game hunted by humans as their main food source – from giant elephants 1-1.5 million years ago down to gazelles 10,000 years ago. According to the researchers, these findings paint an illuminating picture of the interaction between humans and the animals around them over the last 1.5 million years.

Prof. Barkai notes two major issues presently addressed by prehistorians worldwide: What caused the mass extinction of large animals over the past hundreds of thousands of years – overhunting by humans or perhaps recurring climate changes? And what were the driving forces behind great changes in humankind – both physical and cultural – throughout its evolution?

Prof. Barkai: “In light of previous studies, our team proposed an original hypothesis that links the two questions: We think that large animals went extinct due to overhunting by humans, and that the change in diet and the need to hunt progressively smaller animals may have propelled the changes in humankind. In this study we tested our hypotheses in light of data from excavations in the Southern Levant covering several human species over a period of 1.5 million years.”

Jacob Dembitzer adds: “We considered the Southern Levant (Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Southwest Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon) to be an ‘archaeological laboratory’ due to the density and continuity of prehistoric findings covering such a long period of time over a relatively small area – a unique database unavailable anywhere else in the world. Excavations, which began 150 years ago, have produced evidence for the presence of humans, beginning with Homo erectus who arrived 1.5 million years ago, through the neandertals who lived here from an unknown time until they disappeared about 45,000 years ago, to modern humans (namely, ourselves) who came from Africa in several waves, starting around 180,000 years ago.”

The researchers collected all data available in the literature on animal bones found at prehistoric sites in the Southern Levant, mostly in Israel. These excavations, conducted from 1932 until today, provide a unique sequence of findings from different types of humans over a period of 1.5 million years. With some sites comprising several stratigraphic layers, sometimes thousands of years apart, the study covered a total of 133 layers from 58 prehistoric sites, in which thousands of bones belonging to 83 animal species had been identified. Based on these remains, the researchers calculated the weighted mean size of the animals in each layer at every site.

Prof. Meiri: “Our study tracked changes at a much higher resolution over a considerably longer period of time compared to previous research. The results were illuminating: we found a continual, and very significant, decline in the size of animals hunted by humans over 1.5 million years. For example, a third of the bones left behind by Homo erectus at sites dated to about a million years ago, belonged to elephants that weighed up to 13 tons (more than twice the weight of the modern African elephant) and provided humans with 90% of their food. The mean weight of all animals hunted by humans at that time was 3 tons, and elephant bones were found at nearly all sites up to 500,000 years ago.

“Starting about 400,000 years ago, the humans who lived in our region – early ancestors of the Neandertals and Homo sapiens, appear to have hunted mainly deer, along with some larger animals weighing almost a ton, such as wild cattle and horses. Finally, in sites inhabited by modern humans, from about 50,000 to 10,000 years ago, approximately 70% of the bones belong to gazelles – an animal that weighs no more than 20-30kg. Other remains found at these later sites came mostly from fallow deer (about 20%), as well as smaller animals such as hares and turtles.”

Jacob Dembitzer: “Our next question was: What caused the disappearance of the large animals? A widely accepted theory attributes the extinction of large species to climate changes through the ages. To test this, we collected climatic and environmental data for the entire period, covering more than a dozen cycles of glacial and interglacial periods. This data included temperatures based on levels of the oxygen 18 isotope, and rainfall and vegetation evidenced by values of carbon 13 from the local Soreq Cave. A range of statistical analyses correlating between animal size and climate, precipitation, and environment, revealed that climate, and climate change, had little, if any, impact on animal extinction.”

Dr. Ben-Dor: “Our findings enable us to propose a fascinating hypothesis on the development of humankind:  humans always preferred to hunt the largest animals available in their environment, until these became very rare or extinct, forcing the prehistoric hunters to seek the next in size. As a result, to obtain the same amount of food, every human species appearing in the Southern Levant was compelled to hunt smaller animals than its predecessor, and consequently had to develop more advanced and effective technologies. Thus, for example, while spears were sufficient for Homo erectus to kill elephants at close range, modern humans developed the bow and arrow to kill fast-running gazelles from a distance.”

Prof. Barkai concludes: “We believe that our model is relevant to human cultures everywhere. Moreover, for the first time, we argue that the driving force behind the constant improvement in human technology is the continual decline in the size of game. Ultimately, it may well be that 10,000 years ago in the Southern Levant, animals became too small or too rare to provide humans with sufficient food, and this could be related to the advent of agriculture. In addition, we confirmed the hypothesis that the extinction of large animals was caused by humans – who time and time again destroyed their own livelihood through overhunting. We may therefore conclude that humans have always ravaged their environment but were usually clever enough to find solutions for the problems they had created – from the bow and arrow to the agricultural revolution. The environment, however, always paid a devastating price.”

Link to the article:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379121005230?dgcid=author


JOURNAL

Quaternary Science Reviews

DOI

10.1016/j.quascirev.2021.107316 

ARTICLE TITLE

Levantine overkill: 1.5 million years of hunting down the body size distribution

ARTICLE PUBLICATION DATE

15-Dec-2021

From EurekAlert!

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December 21, 2021 10:20 pm

And the reason that the African Elephant became extinct 10,000 years ago is?

Berenger
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 21, 2021 11:08 pm

They evolved along side us and knew to avoid us. Also Hippos they seem to have natural urge to kill us on sight.

Reply to  Berenger
December 21, 2021 11:26 pm

So the elephants in the Levant 10,000 years ago were stupid?

John Tillman
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 22, 2021 12:05 am

Naive. They weren’t used to humans. Same thing happened to mammoths and wooly rhinos in Eurasia and mammoths, gomphotheres and mastodons in the Americas. Plus the rest of the Pleistocene megafauna on those continents and Australia. Ditto the largest animals in Madagascar, New Zealand and other oceanic islands after humans arrived.

Ron Long
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 4:37 am

Naive? Mixture of naive and a little cautious? In Alaska, on the north slope of the Alaska Range, in summer 1967, I was working in an area with large caribou herds, hundreds at a time. When we walked toward a herd they parted enough to allow a 50 meter buffer between us, the young ones ran up to us and stood there sniffing and trembling. When we passed them the herd closed back up. When a wolf appeared the entire herd was instantly focused on the wolf, and if there was an aggressive move they took off running.

John Tillman
Reply to  Ron Long
December 22, 2021 8:14 am

Perfect example.

Curious baby elephants do the same.

Global survey finds rhe Pleistocene-Holocene megafaunal extinctions man-made, with possible slight climatic influence limited to Eurasia:

Global late Quaternary megafauna extinctions linked to humans, not climate change
https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2013.3254

South American megafaunal extinctions and human culture:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-22506-4

Late Pleistocene South American megafaunal extinctions associated with rise of Fishtail points and human population
And:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222651184_Timing_of_Quaternary_megafaunal_extinction_in_South_America_in_relation_to_human_arrival_and_climate_change

Last edited 28 days ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
December 23, 2021 9:48 am

Confirmation for the Americas, based upon 14C dating:

Test of Martin’s overkill hypothesis using radiocarbon dates on extinct megafauna
https://www.pnas.org/content/113/4/886

The evidence is overwhelming.

The results also show false the baseless speculation of extinction from a conjectured but unsupported YD impact, as of course does all other actual evidence.

Last edited 27 days ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
December 23, 2021 10:21 am

Mammoth k!ll sites:

~11 Ka (long after YD):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lehner_Mammoth-Kill_Site

About 10 Ka, so even younger:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naco_Mammoth_Kill_Site

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/345983842_The_Colby_Mammoth_Kill_Site48WA322_Hunting_Mammoths_and_Experiments_with_Clovis_Tools_and_Weaponry

https://www.az-arch-and-hist.org/2013/07/murray-springs-clovis-site/

Earlier, from Austria:

https://www.archaeology.org/news/6954-180907-austria-mammoth

Just a sampling. Only religious objections exist to the fact of human mammoth predation. Scientific, not so much. As in, not at all.

Siberia, 45 Ka:

https://www.science.org/content/article/grisly-find-suggests-humans-inhabited-arctic-45000-years-ago

I’ve studied this issue for over 50 years, without encountering any remotely persuasive scientific arguments against it. They’re ideological appeals to emotion, leavened with baseless conjecture.

I love the honest attitude of Maori friends of mine. Yeah, my ancestors did for the nine moa species and other large birds, flighted and flightless in NZ, but they were no different from any other human group arriving in an environment previously without Moderns as top predator. To include their Polynesian kin in Hawaii.

Last edited 27 days ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
December 23, 2021 10:50 am

Some of the Hawaiian extinctions soon after human occupation:

Great Maui crake, Maui, 13th century AD

High-billed crow, Maui, c. AD 1000

Kaua’i finch, Kaua’i and O’ahu, early 16th century

Kaua’i palila, Kaua’i, unknown, but after humans and before Europeans.

Maui Nui finch, Maui and Moloka’i, early 12th century AD

Moa-nalo, Hawaii, 11th century AD

Primitive koa finch, O’ahu and Maui, before 1778 contact

Scissor-billed koa-finch, Kaua’i and Maui, unknown, but after humans and before Europeans.

Stilt-owls, c. AD 1000.

Stout-legged finch, Kaua’i, unknown, but after humans and before Europeans.

Wood harrier, Maui and Molokai, unknown, but after humans and before Europeans.

Coincidence? I think not!

Although our commensual, nest-raiding rats may have contributed to losses from hunting.

Meanwhile, in the Indian Ocean:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_bird

Last edited 27 days ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
December 23, 2021 11:14 am

Two other North American sites, of many:

https://www.archaeology.org/issues/145-1409/features/2372-peopling-the-americas-schaefer-hebior

Commenters here really ought to study the archaeology before presuming to spout off.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 22, 2021 12:40 pm

No: the humans there were wiser.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Berenger
December 22, 2021 8:25 am

How many generations have to pass before a species learns that humans are dangerous? 180,000 years isn’t enough time? Why is it that bison, deer and elk know to be wary of humans? Although, like hippos, bison can be aggressive towards humans because they know that they are a lot bigger.

John Tillman
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 22, 2021 9:08 am

Megafauna populations in Eurasia, Australia and the Americas, and even some in Africa, were driven below the ability to survive byoverhunting before they learned to attack or avoid humans.
Whole species weren’t wiped out all at once, but local herds were quickly extirpated locally by humans’ preferentially k!lling young and females. Juat as happened to bison once horses and firearms arrived on the Great Plains. Only the newly emergent conservation ethic saved American bison from extinction.
The hunting technology and practices of modern humans had an impact on megafauna comparable to 19th century equivalents on bison.

Steve Garcia(@feet2thefire)
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 25, 2021 12:25 am

I recently read in a journal paper that there were originally something like 50 different elephant species identified in the bone record.

dodgy geezer
December 21, 2021 10:30 pm

Hypothesis with precisely no evidence.There could be many reasons for the average animals eaten declining in size….

Reply to  dodgy geezer
December 21, 2021 11:24 pm

There could be many reasons for the average animals eaten declining in size….

Precisely!
They take no account of the range requirements for mega-fauna. I suggests that the herds of giant elephants probably used the whole of the Arabian Peninsula as their range during the Ice ages. As the range decreased, so did their size. For example the Wrangel Island woolly mammoth population confined to Wrangel by the global sea level rise 10,000 years ago became physically smaller due to range reduction prior to their eventual extinction 4,000 years ago..

John Tillman
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 22, 2021 12:07 am

Mammoths were restricted to Wrangel because they’d been hunted to extirpation by humans on the mainland.

Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 2:26 am

John,
I am addressing the issue of generational size reduction caused by hunting.
My hypothesis is that generational size reduction is due to range reduction. YMMV

John Tillman
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 22, 2021 3:03 am

It is not generational size reduction in the same species. Its replacement of larger species by smaller species, as the larger are extirpated in their former range.

Elephants didn’t disappear in the Levant during interglacials before humans arrived. Their range may have expanded or contracted, but they were always in the region.

Then, after H. erectus, elephants were so thinned out that subsequent people couldn’t rely on them.

This sort of feeding succession in game size has been observed everywhere, even in Africa. There however, megafaunal extinctions began in the Miocene and were initially caused by climate change and grassland expansion. But in the Pleistocene humans contributed to the decline.

ATheoK
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 5:08 pm

The Levant was settled by humans 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.

Why does the extinction process wait until 10,000 years ago?

“At around 60 thousand ago humans migrated out of Africa to the rest of the world, making it to the tip of South America about 10 thousand years ago.

For the map below the Fuller projection was used to “straighten” this near circum-global route to better emphasize the sheer length of the 21 thousand mile walk.”

comment image

Humans are now genetically estimated to have migrated to the Americas up to 40,000 years ago.
From FamilyTreeDNA.com

Haplogroup C is found in eastern Eurasia and throughout the Americas. This haplogroup was present in the populations that initially colonized the pre-Columbian Americas and dates to at least 40,000 years ago.”

The study above appears to be confirmation bias. They found what they wanted to find.

Humans were carrion eaters when large animals were wounded or killed. Humans reaped the meat.

It is very difficult for a human, or any group of humans to kill a mastodon, mammoth, dire wolf, wooly rhino, cave bear, saber tooth, Giant Bison, etc. etc.
Even giant sloths are deadly dangerous to humans and most unpleasant up close.

Why did the Giant Bison vanish from the scene at the cusp of the last Ice Age, about 15,000 years ago? The most likely explanation is that climate change impacted the availability of vegetation, and there simply wasn’t enough food to sustain an extended population of one- and two-ton mammals. That theory is lent weight by subsequent events: the Giant Bison is believed to have evolved into the smaller Bison antiquus, which itself evolved into the even smaller Bison bison, which blackened the plains of North America”

How many humans were found in the La Brea tar pits?

Of the mammals found at La Brea, around 90 percent are carnivores. (Amazingly, the pits have yielded more 200,000 individual dire wolf specimens alone.)”

“One study in 2014 looked at microscopic patterns on the teeth of five species of big cats found at La Brea. The researchers concluded that the mountain lion was the only one to survive into the present because it wasn’t a picky eater, and could survive changes in its food supply.”

7. ONLY ONE HUMAN SKELETON HAS BEEN FOUND THERE.

In 1914, researchers at the tar pits discovered a 9000-year-old set of human remains of a 20-something-year-old female, dubbed “La Brea Woman.” Though some had speculated that she had been trapped in the asphalt or that she was Los Angeles’s first homicide case, later studies suggested La Brea woman’s remains had been ceremonially reburied in the asphalt, possibly with a domestic dog at her side. No other human remains have been found at La Brea.”

Humans were/are much better at eating dead/dying animals than most predators.

If you think it’s easy, prove it. Make your own spear without metal and an atlatl and go hunt a bear. You’ll learn just how fearsome, quick and wild, wild critters really are.

Sparko
Reply to  ATheoK
December 23, 2021 1:06 am

21,000 miles in 50,000 years is half a mile a year. You can walk that in 5 minutes. All studies of human migration are based on extremely limited samples of remains dictated by the long term survivability of such remains.
There is a reason why Richard Leakey is always pictured digging in a desert environment.

John Tillman
Reply to  ATheoK
December 23, 2021 5:12 am

Megafauna were wiped out in the Levant soon after Moderns replaced Neanderthals there for the last time.

Same as when we appeared in northern Eurasia, Australia, the Americas, Madagascar, New Zealand and other Polynesian islands, Reunion and Mauritius. Later we wiped out smaller animals.

John Tillman
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 22, 2021 3:49 am

To the extent that mammoths got smaller on Wrangel Island, it was due to insular dwarfism. That phenomenon has various causes, but among them are reduced range and less food available on remaining range.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 9:04 am

I think that insular dwarfism was what Phillip was referring to with respect to Wrangel Island.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_mammoth

Rocketscientist
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 1:22 pm

California’s channel islands also bolster this claim, although lack of large predators (men) could have been contributory to their diminutive stature.
https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/historyculture/pygmymammoth.htm

DMacKenzie
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 9:01 am

Just as valid is the hypothesis that they weren’t exposed to disease carried by dog fleas…

John Tillman
Reply to  DMacKenzie
December 22, 2021 9:11 am

No evidence for that, so it doesn’t rate as an hypothesis. Just an idle conjecture.

Besides which, Australian megafaunal extinctions occurred tens of thousands of years before dingos arrived in Oz.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 4:37 pm

John,
The continent of Australia is large, past human populations appear to have been tiny. Often, there has been a lot of desert, so food availability has to be a factor alongside human hunting.
The whole topic here is rife with conjecture and very few unambiguous observations. Geoff S

John Tillman
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 23, 2021 5:15 am

Australian megafauna survived the same glacial cycles with ease for 2.5 million years of the Pleistocene no problem. Then people arrived, and they soon went extinct.

John Tillman
Reply to  DMacKenzie
December 23, 2021 7:08 am

Elephants and rhinos still exist in Africa and Asia despite living alnogside flea-ridden dogs for thousands or tens of thousands of years. Why would fleas k!ll woolly mamoths and rhinos but not African and Asian elephants and rhinos?

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
December 23, 2021 8:56 am

Further, wolves and coyotes lived in the Americas, wolves in Eurasia and wild dogs and jackals in Africa along with megafauna for millennia before humans brought dogs there. Those canids must have had fleas and diseases as well.

With abundant good reason have scientists rejected the disease hypothesis.

Reply to  John Tillman
December 23, 2021 8:08 pm

John, it doesn’t invalidate the hypothesis – but you might want to rethink that particular argument for it. Elephants and rhinos do still exist in Africa and Asia. After how long alongside proto- and modern humans?

Stepped on the old crank there a bit…

John Tillman
Reply to  writing observer
December 26, 2021 11:54 am

Elephants and (little rhinos) still exist in South Asia, too.

But that’s easily explained by their being accustomed to humans and by the fact that climate changes were less in the tropics, especiallly in the forests of India and SE Asia, so less stress for the hunted megafauna.

The fact remains that wherever Moderns appeared, outside the Paleotropics (not the Neotropics), megafauna went extinct. And in the Old World Tropics, many megafauna did die out.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  dodgy geezer
December 21, 2021 11:39 pm

Name one. They looked at a variety of other possible causes.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 9:09 am

Well, one possibility is that the authors have the cause and effect backwards. As people developed new technology, such as the bow, they found that they could effectively hunt smaller, faster prey.

Rocketscientist
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 22, 2021 1:29 pm

With fewer members of the hunting party as well. More hunting parties cover more ground and can transport food back to a fixed settlement.
I cannot imaging anybody bringing a mammoth back to camp. I suspect it was the other way. There were probably many good reasons not to have to pick up camp and move away from known fixed sources of supply (water, plants minerals) to chase a migrating herd.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 22, 2021 6:54 pm

Disagree.

Weapons remain effective until they are not. If a weapon (or weapon system) has a useful role it remains in service until either that role is no longer required, or a new method of performing the same role is developed.

(example – the invention of the anti-tank missile did not make the tank extinct, because there was and still is a role for the tank. Battleships became an extinct because the increased searching ranges of aircraft and radar meant there was less chance for the classic ‘fleet battle’ for which they were designed for. Naval warfare evolved from the set piece battle to what were effectively a series of raids against each other’s forces and smaller engagements between smaller formations of smaller ships. The secondary argument here is that Mahan was also obsolete and the fleet actions in Russo-Japanese war and the Great War were exceptions driven by the perception that fleet battles were the sole rational of owning a naval in the first place. We digress)

Solutions in search of a problem rarely develop. If you can catch your lunch with your bare hands you don’t bother waste effort carrying a heavy stick. If you are not carrying a heavy stick then you don’t get to develop the stick into the Improved Stick (+1 vs quadrupeds).

Another case point is that Australia is one of the view places/cultures on Earth that didn’t develop the bow. Why? Possibly because there was nothing that couldn’t be hunted and killed by throwing sticks at it and/or setting fire to the undergrowth.

Weapons evolved to improve on existing weapons when the existing weapon no longer performed due to a changing situation. Pike disappeared when the more flexible Roman style gladius and pilum armed formations started defeating them, only to reappear in the historical timeline once massed use of impact horse (aka – the Knight) began to appear. They then maintained their use in the so named ‘Pike and Shot’ period before slowly declining as firearms became more efficient and the bayonet entered service.

Interestingly the pike then returned to service in Russia during the Great Northern War after the Russians discovered the bloodthirsty Sweds were GaPa’ing their way into the Russian line infantry and regularly shattering them in melee combat. Greta has a lot to answer for.

Okay, I digressed a lot, but basically there is next to no evidence that weapons ever appeared and being adopted in the historical record before there was a need for them.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Craig from Oz
December 22, 2021 8:28 pm

Leonardo de Vinci not withstanding.

Reply to  dodgy geezer
December 22, 2021 12:07 am

And also many reasons for the extinction of megafauna. “Hunting” is not a synonym for “ravaging,” or the predator/prey relationship would not have lasted for 3 billion years.

Sara
Reply to  Jon Garvey
December 22, 2021 4:53 am

Change of diet: Overgrazing, loss of rainfall/water, desertification because of loss of the normal rain patterns, just plain bad weather for several decades forcing the local herds to move elsewhere.

I get these photos taken in Algeria and other odd places of what used to be forested landscape a LOOOONG time ago, and what is left is mostly sand and petrified tree trunks. The weather pattern changes WAY ahead of climate change. Rainfall patterns and snow storm patterns shift with the way the wind blows. Loss of precipitation will damage any thriving green environment and if it becomes prolonged, as in those photos of petrified trees in Algeria, then it is essentially a permanent change.

That does not mean the patterns can’t change again.

wagmc
Reply to  dodgy geezer
December 22, 2021 7:16 am

birth rates. very large animals have a huge range, reproduce infrequently and have long gestation periods. removing even a few individuals can affect the survivability of the entire herd. Over time the entire population can collapse. This has been well studied.

MarkW
Reply to  dodgy geezer
December 22, 2021 7:23 am

There tends to be a relationship between the amount of food available in an environment and the average size of an animal in that environment.
During the time that man was supposedly hunting large animals out of existence in the Levant, it was also drying out.

John Tillman
Reply to  MarkW
December 23, 2021 5:19 am

Levantine megafauna had survived worse drought before, as in prior glacial maxima.

Reply to  dodgy geezer
December 22, 2021 8:21 am

The goal is to make you feel guilty for what ancient man did to the environment.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  co2isnotevil
December 22, 2021 7:05 pm

Ummm… no.

The goal is to make Industrialised Western Men feel bad for not being a noble hunter living in harmony with nature and for colonising and oppressing all the cultures that still did.

Pre-Industrial Cultures = Good and never had an adverse affect on their environment
Pro-Industrial Cultures = Bad and currently destroying the earth.

Hard fact – Hunter Gathers were NOT SAINTS, partly because the concept of Saints is a Christian development, and partly because when you are living on the edge of starvation and have a life expectancy of 40 years you then to have a much more brutal and pragmatic attitude to killing and eating cute furry animals.

Our long term ancestors were pragmatic, focused on survival and ruthlessly brutal when they needed to be. Face it, NO ONE has long term ancestors who were in touch with the environment and deeply concerned with balance and/or the long term welfare and habitat of the lesser spotted plains finch cause all those people died out. Environmentalism is a function of successful and stable societies who never have to worry where their next hashtag is coming from.

jdgalt1
Reply to  Craig from Oz
December 23, 2021 1:40 pm

The notion that either wild animals or savage men are somehow “noble” is in my view the problem. It came from Rousseau, and displaced the natural, human-centric view that making the world safe for humans to walk around in is more important than preserving animals, much less allowing them to continue to run wild. I hold that it still is.

TonyG
Reply to  dodgy geezer
December 22, 2021 12:23 pm

dodgy, I think their evidence is probably “humans bad”

Rocketscientist
Reply to  dodgy geezer
December 22, 2021 1:16 pm

Why then have modern hunting/fishing restrictions placed size limits and even sex limits on taken fish and game? In many areas deer hunting is restricted by sex and upland game bird hunting as well.
There were probably no hunting licenses back in the Holocene so practices were probably as egregious as today’s. Just as earlier peoples drove entire herds over a cliff is akin to driving a pod of dolphins into a shallow bay.
Its a damn good thing we learned animal husbandry, although I believe it also allowed humanity to expand. History is replete with plateaus and breakthroughs. Are we plateauing [only English would allow such linguistic butchery]?

ATheoK
Reply to  Rocketscientist
December 22, 2021 5:41 pm

Hunter gatherers are extremely good at living without destroying their natural areas.

Hunting seasons and limits were enacted because market gunners were extirpating any game that urbanites found tasty.

Market gunners were entirely absorbed in shooting animals before their competitor shoots it.
Such abuses are the reason for the “Duck Stamp”, seasons and limits. Including animals nearly extirpated and subsequently protected by “No Open Season”.

Deer and many other Eastern America animals were nearly driven to extinction. The wood bison was caused to be extinct.

These were caused by loss of habitat, and market gunners harvesting everything else left in the little habitat left.

Modern sports fishing seasons and limits are modeled on the waterfowl success.
Hunting equipment and fishing equipment are voluntarily subject to excise taxes that provide the majority of animal/fish restoration.

https://www.fws.gov/wsfrprograms/Subpages/GrantPrograms/SFR/SFR.htm

https://www.fws.gov/wsfrprograms/Subpages/GrantPrograms/WR/WR_Act.htm

https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R42992.pdf

https://www.fws.gov/wsfrprograms/Subpages/GrantPrograms/WR/WR-Receipts.pdf
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https://www.fws.gov/wsfrprograms/Subpages/GrantPrograms/SFR/SFR-Receipts.pdf
comment image

Hunting and fishing by sportsmen, not market gunners, suburbanites or urbanites who destroy habitat through development, is a major success story for wildlife restoration in North America.

Last edited 28 days ago by ATheoK
Ruleo
December 21, 2021 10:58 pm

suggests

Stopped reading…

Joao Martins
Reply to  Ruleo
December 22, 2021 12:42 pm

yes, kind of science-fiction imagining…

John Tillman
Reply to  Ruleo
December 23, 2021 11:28 am

Normal scientific language.

Art
December 21, 2021 10:59 pm

So they would go to all the trouble and difficulty to hunt and kill a giant elephant, most of which would be eaten by scavengers instead of the hunters because the people just couldn’t eat anywhere near that much meat.

Yeah, right

Last edited 29 days ago by Art
Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Art
December 21, 2021 11:37 pm

Elephants were calorie efficient prey. Less effort per unit of food than rabbits or grasshoppers. Lots of other animal by-products, too, such as hides and rib bones so big they could build tents out of them.

H. erectus had fire. They cooked, cured, and rendered elephants. They also used fire to drive prey to dispatching sites, and to keep scavengers away.

You might not know how to spear an elephant, or dress and cook it, but your ancestors did. Give them some credit. If they were as pathetic as you imply, how did your lineage survive for 100,000+ generations?

JCR
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 21, 2021 11:49 pm

Unless they had fully automatic crossbows, and bamboo assault helicopters, this theory has never mad Any Sense. Further, this paper is pure correlation.

Consider a modern equivalent. The ‘Kung bushmen of the Kalahari. Their giraffe hunts are incredibly labor intensive. Yet, they haven’t wiped out the giraffes just yet.

Further consider North American at about the end of the Younger Dryas: How did an estimated < 1 million humans wipe out > 7 million mammoths and mastodons? Don’t forget to include the multiple other genera that disappeared at the same time.

That’s something this paper appears to utterly fail at: Putting these extinctions into an ecological context. What else went extinct at or near the same time. Is it possible that NATURAL climate change stressed the big game, forcing humans to hunt smaller, more resilient — and more nimble — game?

John Tillman
Reply to  JCR
December 22, 2021 12:17 am

Megafauna did not all go extinct at the same time, even in the Americas. For instance, ground sloths survived until 4 Ka on Caribbean islands, when people arrived by boat.

DonM
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 12:34 pm

“Megafauna did not all go extinct at the same time …”

True, the remaining giraffe & elephant are still there. Unique, adaptable, & smarter than the other guys? (or were they just smarter that the local hunters … careful or you might be accused of carrying on a mean stereotype agin the regional hunters that couldn’t even wipe out their own megafauna.)

John Tillman
Reply to  DonM
December 23, 2021 5:23 am

Ancient Africans did wipe out the largest two antelope species, which couldn’t defend themselves as well as elephants and rhinos. And all giraffe species but one (with nine subspecies).

So not slackers.

Last edited 27 days ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
December 23, 2021 2:57 pm

And about a half dozen giraffe species.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  JCR
December 22, 2021 12:37 am

The Climate Change Extinction hypothesis does not explain the survival of numerous species over multiple climate disruptions for the entire Pleistocene — until humans arrived.

Humans did not (do not) need to kill every member of a species to cause extinction. Consider that most animal populations are at a fraction of carrying capacity due to predator-prey relations. A new, especially deadly predator can easily tip prey populations into below replacement numbers, which in turn can extirpate the existing predator populations. Humans can switch to new foods when that happens, but the old predators cannot.

Giraffes are fleet. They are difficult to hunt. The Kalahari is an expansive place with few humans due to the extremely dry climate. In other places giraffes were extirpated in paleo times.

You claim the paper fails to explain this. Did you read it? I found a paywall. Can you get me a copy? Or did you not actually read it?

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 4:59 am

I thought the First Nations and other aboriginal peoples were at one with nature and did everything correctly to live with all the other animals. Now you’re telling me that the evil white supremacist males somehow came in and screwed up the ecology? And if it was man killing off the megafauna, how does that get classified as “ravaging the environment” when it should be classified as “natural selection”? Or is it because the white supremacists are not natural?

Flash Chemtrail
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
December 22, 2021 7:07 am

The “Native Americans” probably wished for a border wall once Europeans started showing up on their shores.

jdgalt1
Reply to  Flash Chemtrail
December 23, 2021 1:46 pm

This to me is the best argument against wokism/pacifism/anti-colonialism. Raising whole generations of people who don’t know how to fight effectively seems a great achievement until the next round of invaiders find you.

Last edited 27 days ago by jdgalt1
Thomas Burk
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
December 22, 2021 4:30 pm

“At one with nature.” Yeah, right. Even settled tribes were always on the move, if only a few miles. They often exhausted their croplands, and early visitors noted that tribes had to move periodically just to get away from the stench that would accumulate from daily life.

Fred Middleton
Reply to  Thomas Burk
December 24, 2021 9:40 am

Settled. North American tribal human before EU peoples arrived did not have the ability to project Power very far. Projection is one building block of civilization. 1520 + or – the release of large number of horses – Spanish exploration, created the Art of War for the Indian population in grasslands. This ‘Art” changed the way North American early people dealt with neighbors that had cultural differences.

Ted
Reply to  JCR
December 22, 2021 4:34 pm

They specifically addressed climate change in the post. The study showed it “had little, if any, impact on animal extinction”.

Tom Foley
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 12:30 am

The problem with elephants is the lack of refrigeration. What do you do with a ton of meat rotting in the summer sun? You could feed a lot of people for a short time, but then you have to find a lot more food for them in between elephants.

Rabbits (and other burrowing animals) by contrast are easier to harvest continually, and not too labour intensive. Block up all entrances to a warren except two, build a fire in one of the latter, then sit next to the other and hit the rabbits as they come out to escape the smoke. Why, even women and kids could do this. In fact, it probably was the foraging
by women and kids who kept the group alive between elephants.

You might expect different kinds of archaeological sites. Some would be next to an elephant kill, and contain just or mainly elephant bones; others would be near water and shelter, with the bones of a lot of smaller species brought back to the base camp from a foraging zone.

John Tillman
Reply to  Tom Foley
December 22, 2021 12:47 am

You preserve elephant meat by smoking and salting it. If the jerky be too tough, moisten it.

Mike Edwards
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 1:20 am

Hmm, having eaten elephant while visiting South Africa, give me the deer and antelopes anyday. Impala was wonderful meat – elephant nearer to eating old boot.

John Tillman
Reply to  Mike Edwards
December 22, 2021 2:33 am

Our ancestors probably preferred baby elephant for meat, adults for fat, hides and tusks.

ATheoK
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 6:06 pm

Pure speculation.

John Tillman
Reply to  ATheoK
December 23, 2021 5:28 am

Nope. Baby mammoth bones are common at human camp sites.

Besides, just normal predator and human hunter behavior.

Fred Middleton
Reply to  John Tillman
December 24, 2021 9:45 am

So did most all predictors. Baby and juvenile. Slow adults also.

Richard Page
Reply to  Tom Foley
December 22, 2021 1:03 am

There has been quite a lot of study done into this very question – the answer is, nothing. Early man may have used a fermentation or putrefaction process to preserve the meat for long term consumption. It was used in some parts of Africa until fairly recently and it isn’t as disgusting as it appears to our modern delicate sensibilities. It gives rise to few pathogens and the food will be edible for longer.

John Tillman
Reply to  Richard Page
December 22, 2021 1:27 am

Lots of cultures prize fermented meat. It’s big with Eskimos and Nordics, for instance.

Bob boder
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 3:10 am

And Scots

John Tillman
Reply to  Bob boder
December 22, 2021 3:54 am

Mmmm…adolescent gannet pickled in its own juices.

John Tillman
Reply to  Richard Page
December 22, 2021 4:58 am

Amazonian Indians eat monkey meat so putrid that film crews and anthropologists gag from the smell.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Richard Page
December 22, 2021 9:25 am

There is evidence that paleo-Indians submerged large carcasses in alpine lakes in Colorado to preserve the meat through the Summer. But, that wasn’t always possible.

John Tillman
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 22, 2021 9:31 am

There were other options for preserving meat.

BTW, hyenas also stash carcasses under water. Probably mainly to keep scavengers off them by reducing the smell, but the practice also keeps them cooler and away from insects.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 8:29 pm

I’m sure that the crocodiles thank them.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Tom Foley
December 22, 2021 4:33 am

“The problem with elephants is the lack of refrigeration. What do you do with a ton of meat rotting in the summer sun?”

Or 13 tons?

How many members of a tribe would it take to eat 13 tons of elephant meat before it spoils?

What kind of meat preservation did they have 1.5 million years ago?

This seems like a potential large waste of meat.

I would go after smaller animals if I had a choice between elephants and smaller animals. Unless there is an easy way of dispatching elephants with spears. It seems the smaller animal would be less of a risk to the human who was hunting it.

But, it does look like the humans went after the large prey, so they were not too intimidated.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 22, 2021 4:51 am

Making jerky is not all that hard

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Tom Halla
December 22, 2021 9:28 am

However, without beasts of burden and carts, hauling around large quantities of jerky is impractical for hunter gatherer tribes.

Richard Page
Reply to  Tom Halla
December 22, 2021 1:22 pm

Making jerky is still a relatively recent phenomenon – the earliest examples of dried meat come from ancient Egypt and salting has been dated back to 3,000 BC. However, it’s doubtful that either go back to around 10,000 years ago.

John Tillman
Reply to  Richard Page
December 23, 2021 5:30 am

Dried meat doesn’t survive in most climates.

ATheoK
Reply to  Tom Halla
December 22, 2021 6:08 pm

13 tons of raw hanging meat attracts all kinds of other predators.

John Tillman
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 22, 2021 5:18 am

Baby elephants were probably preferentially targeted.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 9:30 am

I don’t think that the evidence in Siberia found in the camps of the natives specializing in mammoth hunting supports that conjecture.

John Tillman
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 23, 2021 5:31 am

Yes it does. And in Europe and North America. Why wouldn’t you hunt young mammoths?

Felix
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 22, 2021 7:47 am

It may be more efficient to kill one elephant and eat 10% while 90% of the meat goes to waste, than to spend time chasing rabbits or deer, Early hunters weren’t interested in overall efficiency or preserving species for the next millenium, only in what it took to eat for the next few days.

ATheoK
Reply to  Felix
December 22, 2021 6:25 pm

Humans are frail and take over a decade to reach maturity.

The dangers of hunting large animals is immense for just one hunt.
Family group tribes are unlikely to risk losing members for frequent dangerous hunts.

John Tillman
Reply to  ATheoK
December 23, 2021 5:33 am

Another reason to hunt babies.

But we know that large game was stampeded over cliffs and trapped in deadend canyons.

TonyG
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 22, 2021 12:39 pm

How many members of a tribe would it take to eat 13 tons of elephant meat before it spoils?

How long would it take to process 13 tons of elephant meat into jerky etc.?

ATheoK
Reply to  Tom Foley
December 22, 2021 6:05 pm

Warrens are only in Europe, not North America.

North America lepus are solitary animals and do not burrow deep. Instead they prefer nesting in shallow ground dips/holes exposed to open air.

https://www.wildlifenorthamerica.com/wildlife/Mammal/Rabbits,Hares,Pikas.html

https://northernnester.com/cottontail-rabbits/

Teddy Lee
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 4:34 am

Possibly because they had a brain!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 9:17 am

Life is full of compromises or tradeoffs! While there were a lot of potential calories in a single elephant, without refrigeration, it is problematic that all of the calories could be used. Waste reduces the calorie efficiency. Balanced against that is the danger of hunting such a large animal, and the calories necessary to transport the meat back to a semi-permanent camp.

Art
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 11:25 am

I didn’t imply they were pathetic, I implied they were smart enough to hunt the easy prey that they could fully utilize rather than the most difficult. Even children can snare small prey.

Last edited 28 days ago by Art
Hasbeen
Reply to  Art
December 22, 2021 4:24 am

Chicken/egg. Could it be that the hunters switched from large very dangerous prey to smaller less dangerous prey, as the technology of their hunting equipment improved allowing thew switch. Just may be the apparent reduction in large prey was simply less of it harvested, rather than a reduction in the numbers available.

I find it interesting that the conclusions drawn by many researchers suits their preferred world view.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Hasbeen
December 22, 2021 5:02 am

I would think hunting smaller prey with the bow and arrow would be a lot less labor intensive and far less dangerous than attacking an elephant with spears. It seems to me your idea is spot on.

John Tillman
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
December 22, 2021 6:56 am

There were no bows and arrows 1.5 Ma, nor 500 Ka, nor even 50 Ka. Hunting small game yields minimal rewards; large game maximal.

K!lling baby elephants gets a lot more meat more easily.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 9:38 am

How about 72 Ka?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bow_and_arrow

Bigger is not always better! I would opine that there is an optimal size that may vary with the size of the tribe and the level of technology.

John Tillman
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 23, 2021 5:37 am

Sibudu Cave points could just as well be atlatl dart tips.

Geoff Sherrington
December 21, 2021 11:11 pm

How did the authors know the bones were from animals killed by people, not from natural deaths or deaths from other hunting animals? It is not likely that they would drag a 12 ton elephant to the campsite fire. Geoff S

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 21, 2021 11:27 pm

They built the fire next to the dead elephant. Sheesh. And that’s where they camped, too. Unlike moderns, our ancestors didn’t have two-bedroom bungalows with daily mail service.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 9:42 am

However, the need for daily water, and shelter from the elements, might have created at least semi-permanent camps for the women, children, and elderly. Even today, the Inuit live in villages and the men set up hunting camps on the edge of the ice.

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 21, 2021 11:32 pm

Geoff,
All of this is part of the “humans are bad” narrative beloved by the followers of the religion of Gaia.

David Blenkinsop
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 22, 2021 12:07 am

If the hypothesis about humans extinguishing large animals is something that holds up generally, then why are there any large animals left anywhere in the world? We are basically talking about pre-industrial era hunting here, hunting and conservation measures after the invention of firearms would be a separate issue. Here in North America, as an example, individual moose can easily range from 1000 to 1500 pounds weight, a lot of value there for a human hunter! But indigenous hunters never exterminated the moose as such, something you might think would be inevitable from the stated hypothesis here? Are they maybe going to say that the indigenous people here in Canada just didn’t like the taste of moose meat, they only picked on the wooly mammoths or the giant sloths, or whatever?

Hunting by humans could easily impact large animals more than small animals, that much is reasonable. Again, it’s plausible that this could lead to extinctions in a small range environment, like on an island. However, it’s when they blame humans for a steady reduction in the size of animals in Eurasia, say, that’s when I start to think that this is just a “humans are bad” narrative, as you say.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Blenkinsop
December 22, 2021 12:35 am

Elephants survived only in Africa because they were used to humans, and in India and SE Asia because of dense forest.

In North Africa and Western Asia, they survived until wiped out by the Romans, with many other beasts used in the games.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Blenkinsop
December 22, 2021 3:56 am

Once animals get down to the size at which their reproduction rate can keep pace with human predation, the species survive. And they learn to fear people.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  David Blenkinsop
December 22, 2021 10:01 am

And, why did cave bears become extinct and grizzlys didn’t? Why did the long-horned steppe bison of North American become extinct while the common bison wasn’t seriously impacted until market hunting with firearms? This, despite the indigenous people often killing far more bison than they could use? Why did sabre tooth cats and the North American lion become extinct, but mountain lions didn’t? Why did dire wolves become extinct and the common wolf survive? Why do we still have musk oxen in the north? Surely if humans picked off the biggest first, after the mammoths were gone they would have gone after the musk ox, which are too stupid to run away. They form a circle and await the slings and arrows of misfortune inflicted by humans.

John Tillman
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 23, 2021 5:42 am

Cougars survived because they hunt smaller game. Lions and sabertooths need megafauna and their young.

Grizzlies are omnivores. Cave bears specialized on big game.

Same goes for dire wolves.

I’d have thought the answers to your question were obvious.

People have hunted species to extinction in historical times, so why do you think our ancestors didn’t?

tom hewitt
Reply to  David Blenkinsop
December 22, 2021 11:13 am

In Alaska, Athabascan natives of a generation ago relate that in areas of the western Interior moose were an unusual sight even in the early years of the twentieth century. When someone found the track of a moose it was followed until they were able to kill it. Now moose are common in the area and have advanced further to the west, as far as the Seward Peninsula, an area where they have never been seen before.

Mactoul
Reply to  David Blenkinsop
December 22, 2021 10:46 pm

The authors do not “blame” early humans in any moral sense.

John Tillman
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 22, 2021 12:13 am

Not a narrative. Just the evidence. Wherever humans have wandered out of Africa, large animals have been wiped out.

It has long been observed in North America that the largest megafauna went extinct first, eg mammoths, then the next biggest, eg camels, then the next, eg horses, etc.

Last edited 29 days ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 12:31 am

Wooly mammoths survived eight glacial-interglacial cycles before humans arrived in their range. Then they promptly were wiped out on the mainlands of Eurasia and North America. Ancient DNA shows that they also survived until about 8 Ka in inaccessible parts of recently deglaciated Arctic North America, until that area became habitable by humans.

Mike Edwards
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 1:33 am

then the next, eg horses, etc.”

And yet, equally large animals survived in incredible numbers and were routinely hunted by the indigenous people, until the arrival of modern technology in the shape of the rifle: i.e. the Bison.

So perhaps the overall story is not quite so simple.

John Tillman
Reply to  Mike Edwards
December 22, 2021 2:30 am

Modern bison are much smaller than the Pleistocene species wiped out by our ancestors.

Mike Edwards
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 4:49 am

But modern bison are not much different in size to horses – ancient or modern. Yet the one survived in N.A. and the other became extinct.

And it is curious that when horses were reintroduced by Europeans after 1492, some went wild and eventually formed herds in places like Texas that some estimate as large as a couple of million in size, despite the presence of humans.

John Tillman
Reply to  Mike Edwards
December 22, 2021 7:05 am

The smallest bison species managed to survive the human-caused megafaunal extinctions. With larger competitor herbivores wiped out, their numbers ballooned, forming herds too vast to be wiped out before firearms and the return of horses.

Other survivors, ie moose, caribou and musk oxen, also enjoyed population explosions. This compensated for the loss in Alaska of mammoths, saiga antelope, horses, etc.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/quaternary-research/article/abs/tracking-latequaternary-extinctions-in-interior-alaska-using-megaherbivore-bone-remains-and-dung-fungal-spores/BD3C13789FBB262EDCA8432CBB47067E

Haverwilde
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 9:56 am

I thought that the bison herds ballooned after 1492, when the multi-pandemic killed 80 to 90% of the indigenous peoples. Before then the herds were much smaller.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 10:21 am

Steppe bison were larger than the surviving modern bison, but not anywhere near as large as mammoths or mastodons. What we are concerned about in making comparisons is the amount of edible meat. Even the modern bison far outweighs even the largest modern draft horses, let alone the horses that had to be fleet of foot to escape Pleistocene predators.

The argument of humans moving from the largest to smallest prey species just doesn’t hold up when examined in detail.

When you are a subsistence hunter, you have to take into account not only how much meat you can obtain from a single kill, but the frequency of encountering prey. Smaller prey are invariably more abundant. Even with nearly 10^9 bison in North America, tribes sometimes had to resort to eating their dogs when they couldn’t find a bison herd. How often could they expect to encounter mammoths or mastodons?

The thing is, almost all of the mega-fauna were gone by about 11,000 years ago, when the human population in North America was small. The claimed impact is out of proportion to the number of hunters prior to 11 Ka.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Mike Edwards
December 22, 2021 10:27 am

… some went wild and eventually formed herds …

Probably because all of the large Pleistocene predators were extinct. Realistically, only mountain lions, wolves, and sometimes grizzlies were a threat to the reintroduced horses.

John Tillman
Reply to  Mike Edwards
December 23, 2021 5:44 am

Big difference in size between Pleistocene horses and bison. They were pony-sized.

John Tillman
Reply to  Mike Edwards
December 22, 2021 3:08 am

There are now no animals in North America equal in size to the largest megafauna. The large species left are smaller, and able to reproduce more rapidly.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 22, 2021 12:45 am

Phil,

Your argument is emotional and uses the despised strawman fallacy. It’s the reverse of appeal to authority. Please pursue the merits, not the speaker, one who in this case isn’t even involved.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 2:20 am

Mike,
I must have learnt this skill by following examples presented to me.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 21, 2021 11:42 pm

Also the bones have scraper marks and are in human-made middens with broken stone tools and charcoal.

LdB
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 12:18 am

That doesn’t mean the humans killed them just they hacked them up, they could have died to of old age for all you know. There are stories from Inuit and aboriginal people of feasting on beached whales for example. You need to prove the humans killed them for the hypothesis to be true.

Last edited 29 days ago by LdB
John Tillman
Reply to  LdB
December 22, 2021 12:37 am

The bones have cut marks and have been burned. In the US, mammoth remains contain Clovis points.

griff
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 2:03 am

Here’s an example, providing details of kill method and suggesting kills were in cold months…

Colby Mammoth Kill Site Historical Marker (hmdb.org)

John Tillman
Reply to  griff
December 22, 2021 4:12 am

Another reason that elephants survived in Africa and southern Asia was that it’s harder to preserve their meat there, requiring more preparation than in regions with freezing winters.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 10:40 am

You preserve elephant meat by smoking and salting it. If the jerky be too tough, moisten it.

Which is more work, making jerky, or digging a deep cellar and fortifying it against predators?

Last edited 28 days ago by Clyde Spencer
John Tillman
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 23, 2021 5:46 am

Digging, for sure.

You’re going to build fires and cut up the meat anyway.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  griff
December 22, 2021 10:36 am

And they didn’t eat meat for Lent or in the Summer.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 10:32 am

And, apparently the Clovis People became extinct too. Or, at least their technology. They may have been too specialized and when the mammoths became extinct, they had to find other ways of surviving.

John Tillman
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 23, 2021 5:47 am

They developed the Archaic Culture to hunt medium game. There might also have been another migration wave.

CWinNY
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 9:41 am

What about human remains? I remember a comparison of the injuries of an ancient man to those of a rodeo cowboy. If you are poking large animals with spears, you can expect retaliation. Is there any discussion about the ancient human bodies with evidence of multiple healed fractures?

John Tillman
Reply to  CWinNY
December 23, 2021 5:49 am

You’re thinking of Neanderthals, who used thrusting spears. Moderns had throwing spears and atlatls.

Last edited 27 days ago by John Tillman
griff
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 22, 2021 2:00 am

Butchery marks on bones; also tips of flint/stone spears/arrows are found embedded in bones…

Intelligent Dasein
Reply to  griff
December 22, 2021 9:19 am

This is absolutely not true whatsoever. There has never been any discovery of human weapons in mammoth bones.

Thomas Burk
Reply to  Intelligent Dasein
December 22, 2021 4:49 pm

Interesting. Especially because the other commenters are not replying or rebutting your excellent argument. Until they do, I think you have clarified the whole thread.

John Tillman
Reply to  Intelligent Dasein
December 23, 2021 5:50 am

There most certainly have been. Who told you that lie?

Intelligent Dasein
Reply to  John Tillman
December 26, 2021 10:45 am

Find one example. Just one.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  griff
December 22, 2021 2:32 pm

Griff,
Answer my question. How do researchers deduce that animal remains were from animals that humans killed, not animals that died from natural causes or from other animal attacks? Evidence of human tools or fires does not answer this. Tools could be used to finally kill animals wounded from non-human acts like other animals attacking. Geoff

John Tillman
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 23, 2021 5:53 am

Multiple large spear points in the same carcass.

Piles of animals with broken bones at the base of cliffs.

Masses of animals in natural trap arroyos.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  John Tillman
December 24, 2021 4:04 pm

Plus the nearby label reading “Use or Freeze by 12/3/20,000 BC.”

LdB
Reply to  griff
December 22, 2021 5:32 pm

I would love to see a spear or arrow embedded in a bone … we shall dub that the daniel boon shot … at best you would get a mark indistinguishable from post death butchery.

You really have no clue do you and lies which someone told you get repeated 🙂

Last edited 28 days ago by LdB
John Tillman
Reply to  LdB
December 23, 2021 5:55 am

Please Google “mammoth k!ll sites”, or read Griiff’s link. No lies in this case.

Mammoths were often killed without spears.

Tom Foley
December 21, 2021 11:51 pm

The continent where humans have lived for the longest has the greatest number of surviving large animals – megafauna. Africa – elephant, giraffe, rhino, hippo, buffalo, 78 species of antelope (small as well as big), lion, leopard, cheetah, cassowary. I’ve probably missed a few. Perhaps Africans didn’t need to go to the effort of domesticating species because their megafauna supermarket remained full.

Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 12:19 am

This appears to be an excellent paper (paywalled). The authors compiled evidence from decades of research on numerous sites. The Levant has abundant archaeological sites because it has been the on the main road out of Africa since Homo first appeared.

The climate hypothesis was tested and rejected. How’s that for bucking the current madness? Can’t accuse these guys of grant-seeking from warmunists.

The “aboriginal overkill” hypothesis was proposed in the 1990’s by numerous proponents. Much evidence supports it, including the extinction of hundreds of large prey species on many continents and islands concurrent with human arrival. In the few places where a few large prey species still exist, human-to-human territorial interactions (warfare) probably explains it. Human avoidance and escape strategies work for small, fleet prey, but the large prey fell to the keystone predator: man.

Anthropologists have long accepted the calorie economics of hunting and other food production. It’s still in place today, although money has replaced calories.

Early humans were not conservationists. There has been plenty of debate on that subject with various definitions presented, but in general hungry people ate what they could today without much concern about tomorrow. Conservation is a modern concept.

I give the authors five stars and invite skeptics to delve into the literature (esp. pre- our current climate insanity).

John Tillman
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 12:43 am

Paul Martin proposed the “overkill hypothesis” in 1958. He and others expanded it in the ‘60s. I studied it in the ‘70s.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 1:15 am

Yes, thank you. My bad. Paul Martin was the first. Charles Kay also did seminal work. My studies were in the 90’s. I should have consulted my book shelf before firing from the hip.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 12:57 am

You haven’t answered Tom’s excellent point that large animals survived in Africa despite apparently living with crazed killers relentlessly running around 24/7 wiping out selectively large animals first to make up for the small numbers of people alive at the time. And why bother killing the largest and most dangerous to you when plenty of easy prey is at hand? Perhaps Neanderthal’s tried the kill everything big strategy – in which case it didn’t work out that well.

A minor point – apparently tourist with guns wiped out the last vestiges of the Near East Lions as late as the 1920s. Why would ancient man make a point of hunting large or dangerous predators first to his own peril. And why did they not tackle the crocks – meat and handbags in one go?

We might never know what really happened but there are as many holes in the two legs bad, four legs good idea as a decent Swiss cheese.

John Tillman
Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
December 22, 2021 1:20 am

More megafauna survived in Africa because they evolved beside humans. African elephants know to attack humans to defend their herd.

Mammoths did not regard our ancestors as a threat.

On every continent and island to which humans went out of Africa, megafauna were wiped out.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 3:58 am

There were early Holocene megafaunal extinctions in Africa caused by humans, but relatively fewer than on other continents.

David Middleton(@debunkhouse)
Editor
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 8:21 am

The habitat disruptions that would have occurred during glacial/interglacial and stadial/interstadial transitions were also far less severe in Africa than they were in North America, Europe and Northern Asia.

Those periods were probably already very stressful on megafauna before large numbers of human hunters spread into those regions during the Late Pleistocene to Early Holocene. We were probably “the straw that broke the camelops back”.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  David Middleton
December 22, 2021 9:52 am

Then how do you explain northern megafauna surviving multiple glacial stadials and interglacials over 2.8 million years and the growth and shrinkage of continental ice sheets, until humans arrived?

Side note: frankly I’m surprised at the number of climate skeptics who leap to blame climate for megafaunal extinction. The climate argument is puny. Animals are mobile. They can and do move thousands of miles when motivated. Climate change is not the be all and end all of every phenomenon. C’mon, man.

David Middleton(@debunkhouse)
Editor
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 11:42 am

I explained it in the comment. The transitions were probably already stressful, particularly in Northern Hemisphere higher latitudes. When large numbers of skilled human hunters arrived in the Late Pleistocene, it was just too much for the megafauna to overcome. Humans were the “straw that broke the camelops back.”

Many skeptics reflexively reject blaming people for anything. This is why they gravitate to the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis, despite a lack of unequivocal evidence for it.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
December 23, 2021 9:33 am

Also other highly implausible speculations, such canine-borne diseases. Although even that conjecture still implicates people.

The only viable alternative is climate change, although that’s easily shown false as well, except perhaps in conjunction with humans, especially in Eurasia.

So, catastrophic man-made climate change skeptics have made strange bedfellows with those who say that climate change and not humans caused the Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
December 23, 2021 5:56 am

Good point. Ditto South Asia.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 10:46 am

More megafauna survived in Africa because they evolved beside humans.

How long does a species have to associate with humans to learn that they are dangerous?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 22, 2021 1:59 pm

How long does a species have to associate with humans to learn that they are dangerous?

Generally, until the humans get hungry enough.

John Tillman
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 23, 2021 6:00 am

When you k!ll whole herds at once, they never learn.

You also drive them to extinction by picking off unattended calves and slow, pregnant cows.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 1:17 am

Another point while I’m at it. Predator and prey populations are never “in balance”, but they do cycle. The predators hunt the prey into near extirpation, and then the predator populations crash. With few predators, prey populations expand. Then after a time lag, predator populations rebound.

These cycles occur in space and time. In some locales both predator and prey populations may disappear until replenished by new arrivals from somewhere else.

Human disrupt these cycles by overkill and quick movement across large distances and through many habitat zones, as well as food diversity. People will eat almost anything. Watch the Food Channel if you don’t believe me.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 10:47 am

These cycles occur in space and time.

Classic ecology!

Climate believer
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 2:42 am

Early humans were not conservationists. There has been plenty of debate on that subject with various definitions presented, but in general hungry people ate what they could today without much concern about tomorrow. Conservation is a modern concept.”

Seems very counter intuitive.

Dr Ruth Blasco studying the Qesem cave site, early paleolithic, believes they have found evidence of bone and skin conservation.

“We show for the first time in our study that 420,000 to 200,000 years ago, prehistoric humans at Qesem Cave were sophisticated enough, intelligent enough and talented enough to know that it was possible to preserve particular bones of animals under specific conditions, and, when necessary, remove the skin, crack the bone and eat the bone marrow,”

John Tillman
Reply to  Climate believer
December 22, 2021 4:54 am

Genus Homo has broken open bones for their marrow for far longer than from 420 Ka. H. erectus‘ handax was used to do so.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Climate believer
December 22, 2021 10:04 am

If “conservation” is defined as saving some resource (such as an elephant) for later rather than eating it now, then it is unlikely to have happened with our ancestors. They had some thinking skills and foresight, as do moderns, but dinner is dinner.

Some conservation was probably practiced with plant resources. It has been recorded that when gathering Native elders instruct the youths to leave some roots so plants may grow for next year. However, that is a modern practice and can’t be assumed to have occurred in paleo times.

It may also be noted that other predators, such as wolves, do not conserve prey.

DonM
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 12:52 pm

🙂 ya they do … they take only the old, sick and injured. Don’t you watch PBS? They leave the strong and healthy to breed future generations of old, sick & injured.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Climate believer
December 22, 2021 10:53 am

Efficiently using the available food is not a definition of modern “conservation.”

Hunter gatherers didn’t always make a daily kill. However, using fire or stampedes over cliffs often resulted in killing far more animals than could be used before the food spoiled, and these methods of hunting were employed without concern for long-range impacts, which is the antithesis of conservation.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 22, 2021 2:43 pm

Clyde,
Animals are known to herd prey over cliffs, eg polar bear and walrus. So how do you derive quantitative info that fossil mass kills were by humans not other animals?
There is a lot of unsupportable assumption in this research topic. Geoff S

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 22, 2021 8:42 pm

There appears to be some question about whether the polar bear/walrus event happened as Attenborough claimed.

It is conceivable that a polar bear caught a walrus on a cliff where it had no safe exit. That may have just been luck rather than planning.

The difference is that humans would use fire or brush barriers and drive whole herds over the cliff. The bones often showed butchering marks. I believe that indigenous Indians still engaged in the practice after Europeans arrived.

John Tillman
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 23, 2021 6:04 am

What animal but humans has ever driven a bison herd over a cliff? Wolves are pack hunters, but don’t do this. They all target a single bison.

Bears are lone hunters.

Christina Widmann
December 22, 2021 1:12 am

This article says that several species of megafauna were already extinct before H. erectus showed up. The authors believe the long-term decline in atmospheric CO2 stopped trees from growing in dry-ish places, favouring grasslands instead. The megafauna that depended on trees declined in numbers and some species went extinct.

Combined with this study now, is it possible that the megafauna were already struggling and our ancestors’ hunting was the final straw?

John Tillman
Reply to  Christina Widmann
December 23, 2021 6:07 am

Species are always going extinct, but the megafauna wiped out by humans had survived many glacial-interglacial cycles.

However, climatic stresses which they survived before could have combined with human hunting to tip species over.

Jeremy Poynton
December 22, 2021 1:20 am

Apex predators. Live off meat. Carnivore diet still suits us best.

December 22, 2021 1:42 am

The last glacial maximum was exceptionally severe, 25-20,000 years ago. Also by that time humans had become behaviourally modern (70 kya). It’s hard to disentangle the contribution to megafauna extinctions of these two things – humans and climate.

There is no doubt however that some megafauna extinctions were human caused.

John Tillman
Reply to  Phil Salmon
December 22, 2021 2:21 am

Megafauna had survived the many prior glacial maxima. Their extinctions came before during and after the LGM, but mostly outside of it. In Australia, entirely before it, but after humans arrived there.

This isn’t a post hoc fallacy. It happened on every continent, but to a lesser extent in Africa. When we got the capability, we even wiped out some whale species with hand weapons, like Atlantic grays.

DMacKenzie
Reply to  Phil Salmon
December 22, 2021 9:20 am

Also, humans domesticated hunting dogs about 25000 years ago…. And dog fleas carry disease to other mammals, even if the hunters are only out fishing that day…

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Phil Salmon
December 22, 2021 10:11 am

Still beating the climate drum I see. At the LGM megafauna lived in every climate zone from northern ice sheet to southern. They were doing fine until YOUR ANCESTORS ate them all. Family history isn’t always pretty, but blaming the weather for weird Uncle Charlie is disingenuous.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Phil Salmon
December 22, 2021 2:45 pm

Phil,
And the proof beyond doubt is?
Geoff S

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 22, 2021 3:27 pm

It has been set out in detail several times in posts here by John Tillman – many instances of circumstantial evidence too compelling to ignore. Modern humans arrive, megafaunal species (or other human species) disappears. Like the Diprotodon in Australia (wombat size of hippo) and everything in North America (ground sloths included). It’s really beyond controversial – at least by the standards of palaeontology.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Phil Salmon
December 22, 2021 5:05 pm

Phil,
Since when was circumstantial evidence regarded as proof in science?
It might be be basis of a hypothesis, whose next step is testing for proof. Geoff S

John Tillman
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 23, 2021 6:10 am

The evidence is overwhelming. It’s physical as well as circumstantial.

Humans slew mammoths en masse.

Stephen Skinner
December 22, 2021 1:46 am

“…humans have always ravaged their natural environment”
Only humans? What about the great plagues that ravage plants and animals. What about the cataclysmic volcanoes and earthquakes that have wiped out great swathes of life? What about the occasional large asteroid? I would say that humans had to figure how to stay alive in a violent and dangerous world and intelligence gave us that edge. For some people this is supposedly bad. We are also nature and not something different.
And while we are at it lets dissect this:
“The researchers also claim that about 10,000 years ago, when animals larger than deer became extinct, humans began to domesticate plants and animals to supply their needs, and this may be why the agricultural revolution began in the Levant at precisely that time.”
What kind of researcher completely ignores probably only the greatest environmental change to happen to modern humans in 200,000 years. The Holocene is the most important event in human history and made it possible to grow food because of better more stable weather (relatively), longer growing seasons, more rain, and we domesticated animals that were easy to domesticate. Modern humans cross bred with Neanderthals that gave us an intelligence edge as the latter had knowledge for living in hostile environments like the north. The fact that we became smarter and figured out how to grow food is still a big problem for some people.

John Tillman
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
December 22, 2021 2:26 am

H. sapiens existed during the previous two interglacials as well.

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 7:40 am

Indeed, but they only met the Neanderthals during the last glaciation.

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
December 22, 2021 8:22 am

At least that is my current understanding

John Tillman
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
December 23, 2021 6:12 am

Yes. You’re right. The first time about 90 Ka in the Levant. That we know of.

There might be genetic evidence of older encounters.

Last edited 27 days ago by John Tillman
Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
December 22, 2021 10:16 am

Eating grass instead of steaks is referred to as a starvation diet. The croissant was invented by necessity in the absence of roast beast.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 2:02 pm

Difficult to make said croissant without milk from said beast

stinkerp
December 22, 2021 1:53 am

We may therefore conclude that humans have always ravaged their environment

And there you have the preconceived bias underlying their theory: humans bad, nature good.

Then they wrapped the barest shreds of “evidence” around their narrative, ignoring obvious problems like how such a small population of prehistoric hominids with extremely rudimentary tools could wipe out an entire species of megafauna. It’s the same pseudoscientific humans-ravage-nature leftist bias that incorrectly blamed the deforestation of Easter Island on humans. The “back to nature” sentiment of simple-minded misanthropes has been around for centuries in one form or another as anyone familiar with Thomas Malthus’ erroneous 18th century pronouncements on overpopulation knows.

Last edited 28 days ago by stinkerp
Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  stinkerp
December 22, 2021 10:22 am

This argument stutters. Humans are natural. We are biological animals. We cannot separate from or reunite with Nature. We are in it, like it or not. Nothing to do with politics.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  stinkerp
December 22, 2021 11:08 am

… could wipe out an entire species of megafauna.

It wasn’t just one species, it was almost all megafauna, particularly those with the oldest lineages. I would consider moose, elk, musk oxen, caribou, bison, and grizzly bears and polar bears to be megafauna.

The reasons for extinctions have always been controversial. Clearly they happened before the evolution of Man. In those cases, one can obviously rule out Man. Usually, some climatic event or catastrophe can be appealed to. However, the idea of genetic senility or dead-end evolution paths have been suggested. There may be no single process responsible for all extinctions. Certainly competition between species has been one of the reasons. The smarter, better adapted, or more adaptable usually prevail. Look at the success of modern coyotes!

Ed Hanley
December 22, 2021 2:01 am

Rough correlations have led to a hypothesis. Fair enough. Causality hasn’t been demonstrated, but that’s the next step, of course. Let’s see what causal evidence they unearth.

The hypothesis contains a grain of plausibility, but having watched big game behavior for a while in Africa, I can’t visualize the relatively small numbers of humans extant in the Levant, over the time period, exacting such carnage. E.g. elephants are smart, learn fast, and can outrun a hominid with a spear. And frankly, if Crocodile Dundee could so easily kill small game with a rock, why couldn’t early man? Shouldn’t the small critters be the low-hanging fruit?

I would propose the authors examine all the human remains from the Levant over the time period. They should see a sharp decline in death from crushed skulls, multiple broken bones, and other massive trauma with each large animal extinction timeline.

Mactoul
Reply to  Ed Hanley
December 22, 2021 11:29 pm

It is human physiology and energitics as other papers by Ben Dor show. Humans require sufficient quantities of fat which are more easily obtainable from large prey.
There is something called Rabbit Starvation which is diet of protein without sufficient fat.

John Tillman
Reply to  Mactoul
December 23, 2021 6:15 am

We owe our big brains to our ancestors using stone axes to open long bones for marrow and skulls for fatty brains.

DonM
Reply to  John Tillman
December 27, 2021 6:09 pm

again, cause&effect, or effect&cause.

we don’t owe our big brains to eating marrow and fat.

having/eating marrow & fat allowed brain size to change naturally. W/o consistent fat, genetic changes would not have held.

So, the true cause of the megafauna extinctions is the mutation that led to a bigger brain, thus the desire for more fat & energy, and the resulting deaths of the super-bambi’s.

Given a lack of true and evident transition for the ancestral big brain, the true origin of the megafauna extinctions points, obviously, toward the ancient aliens that monkeyed with our ‘ancestors’ DNA.

It is apparent, that throughout history, every time the ancient aliens showed up, there were extinctions and other catastrophic events.

Conclusion: ancient aliens are bad and should be ostracized; and we should avoid the One World governance, that they demand be in place, before they step forward in formal contact.

🙂

Bob boder
December 22, 2021 3:15 am

Man’s bad because he kills and eats.
Next logical extension, Mammals are bad because they wiped out and took over for reptiles and dinosaurs. And on and on and on. All life except most plants are bad.

John Tillman
Reply to  Bob boder
December 22, 2021 4:03 am

Mammals didn’t wipe out nonavian dinosaurs, most birds and other reptiles. A cosmic impact did. Surviving mammals were then able to expand into the niches thus vacated. Our ancestors were largely smaller, nocturnal and burrowing, so better able to survive the catastrophe.

Christina Widmann
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 8:37 am

Humans also occupy vacated niches, only we vacate them first. E.g. seals in the Mediterranean: Their niche is eating seafood and lazing on the beach. Enter H. sapiens, hunt the seals, cook seafood paella and laze on the beach.

John Tillman
Reply to  Christina Widmann
December 23, 2021 6:18 am

Humans wiped out the Caribbean monk seal. Now look at Cancun. People are killing each other.

Somehow the Hawaiian and Mediterranean monk seals survived, the former just barely, on Midway and other remote islands.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Bob boder
December 22, 2021 10:26 am

There is no moral or ethical judgement in the overkill hypothesis. It’s what happened. Not bad, not good. You will not be tried for this crime, nor given a medal for heroism.

David Brewer
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 12:58 pm

Will not be tried, yet. I withhold my judgement on that until people admit that my ancestors having done something bad 150 years ago doesn’t in some way mean I need to make reparations to people that may or may not have been impacted by the actions of my ancestors.

David Brewer
Reply to  David Brewer
December 22, 2021 1:37 pm

I’d like to note I don’t think it likely people will try to blame anyone and receive monetary compensation, but it’s not impossible. And it’s definitely not unreasonable to think that some of the eco-nuts out there will attempt to incorporate this sort of thing into how white man bad training like CRT. Because everyone “knows” indigenous peoples all have massive respect for nature and would never overhunt… so obviously it’s all the fault of the evil white man. It’s not as if most of them aren’t fairly ignorant of basic reality anyway, so why not blame white men for things like this, despite simple logic showing it’s impossible?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Bob boder
December 22, 2021 2:04 pm

Man’s bad because he kills and eats.
Next logical extension, Mammals are bad because they wiped out and took over for reptiles and dinosaurs. And on and on and on. All life except most plants are bad.

“Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.”
Douglas Adams

Pablo
December 22, 2021 3:29 am

“We propose that the YD event resulted from multiple ET airbursts along with surface impacts. We further suggest that the catastrophic effects of this ET event and associated biomass burning led to abrupt YD cooling, contributed to the late Pleistocene megafaunal extinction, promoted human cultural changes, and led to immediate decline in some post-Clovis human populations.”

https://www.pnas.org/content/104/41/16016

John Tillman
Reply to  Pablo
December 22, 2021 4:06 am

No valid evidence supports this “hypothesis”, ie baseless conjecture easily shown false.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 5:15 am

It’s a good thing you know everything so you can set up straight.

John Tillman
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
December 22, 2021 7:08 am

I know that there is no valid evidence for the fraudulent YDIH. Not everything, but that, I do know.

Please see any of the many eviscerations of the fraud in WUWT files.

Disputin
Reply to  Pablo
December 22, 2021 5:22 am

The problem I have with the Younger Dryas is with the ending. I can see all sorts of reasons for the onset, but they all taper off to the trend line, instead of snapping back to it 1,000 years later.

(And if I could find out how to put the link in I would show you what I mean)

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Pablo
December 22, 2021 5:30 am

I mentioned the other day that some scientists have discovered that asteriod and comet impacts change the surface magnetism of the impacted area, which makes them stand out from the surrounding territory, and even airbursts would do this under certain circumstances.

That being the case, maybe someday we will know whether these events took place.

Last edited 28 days ago by Tom Abbott
bonbon
Reply to  Pablo
December 22, 2021 5:54 am

Curiously the study area in question was directly involved – see Gobekli Tepe.
There is evidence of a pre-agricultural phase, aptly named hunter-collectors. Agriculture used collector infrastructure. That is not the usual gradualist, Darwin Malthusian imperative, but creative ideas at work.
The Authors, and sidekicks, should stop monkeying around with people.

Ed Zuiderwijk
December 22, 2021 3:36 am

So those enormous steaks depicted in “The Flintstones” were spot on!

Brad Reed
December 22, 2021 3:38 am

Seems to be another variation of the Liller Ape theory.

Brad Reed
December 22, 2021 3:38 am

My bad,

Seems to be another variation of the Killer Ape theory.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Brad Reed
December 22, 2021 11:11 am

You had me going there for a bit!

tim maguire
December 22, 2021 3:45 am

I can see the attraction of focusing on a small area where we have the most data, but their justification for generalizing to the whole world is…a bit thin.

John Tillman
Reply to  tim maguire
December 22, 2021 4:05 am

The same has long been observed on every continent and oceanic islands, following human arrival.

Sara
December 22, 2021 4:44 am

Mammoths went extinct up in Russia/Siberia because they got stuck in muddy riverbanks and swampy areas during warm-ups. Too many of those frozen carcasses are up there with NO HUNTING WEAPONS DAMAGE induced by Hoomans. The mammoths simply got stuck in slop and truly treacherous mud on lake sides and river banks.

There is, also, a campsite set up near Heidelberg, Germany, some 400,000 years ago by a group/tribe/clan of Heidelbergensis of all ages that was essentially a place to prep (butcher, OK?) horses and other prey animals. There are child-sizzed 2-end-pointed javelins included in that find, along with man-made “equipment” for butchering carcasses. That stuff is in the museum in Heidelberg.

With all due respect to the professor and his group, they’ve left out a lot of stuff that is important and relevant to why roving Hoomans began to settle down and grow food crops like wheat and rye and other plants. Hoomans are omnivores. Ignoring that part of our nature is not valid.

John Tillman
Reply to  Sara
December 22, 2021 4:52 am

Woolly mammoths got stuck in mud for millennia before humans arrived in their range. That’s not why they went extinct. Plenty of k!ll sites show the weapons our ancestors used to despatch the big beasts.

The transition to agriculture and herding was gradual. Hunting and gathering continued alongside pastoralism and growing crops. They’re still widely practiced today. But plant and animal domestication arose when wild game got too rare to support local human populations.

Sara
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 7:11 am

Not arguing that point. Just that the people who put this stuff together left out a lot of things, including domesticating plants for human use, which started with emmer grain around 17,000 BC and einkorn grain around 16,000 BC (see History of Food website’s timeline https://www.foodtimeline.org/ ) , and they also ignored the fact that it’s easier to cultivate food sources close at hand (including livestock) than it is to chase them.

When did the planet start really warming up, after all? That was about the time domesticating plants and building sites began, such as a village in Jordan (15,000 BC) Per History of Food, flour, bread and soup came along around 10,000 BC.

Just saying it was as much about convenience as it was about loss of large animal prey. It’s the reason that domestication of dogs began, because they instinctively hunt for prey, and domestication of livestock followed.

John Tillman
Reply to  Sara
December 22, 2021 7:36 am

Emmer and einkorn weren’t domesticated until much later than 19 Ka. People did use wild grains at that time, however. Oldest sign of domesticated grains in the Fertile Crescent date to 12 Ka, at most.

The loss of big game was the main reason for domestication of plants and animals. Farming and herding are actually more work and less convenient than hunting and gathering. Modern hunter-gatherers enjoy more leisure time than do agricultural and industrial workers.

Dogs initially domesticated themselves, as outcast wolves took to scavenging around human camps. They served as alarms before being further domesticated to help in the hunt.

Sara
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 9:30 am

Has to be earlier than 12,000 YA. There’s a village under excavation in Jordan that was built 15,000 years ago. A settlement like that doesn’t get started unless there’s a good reason to stay in that one place, e.g., good water resources, better weather, fertile ground plus food-bearing (fruit like olives, apples, etc.) plants/trees.

John Tillman
Reply to  Sara
December 23, 2021 6:22 am

Please provide a link. Thanks!

DMacKenzie
Reply to  John Tillman
December 22, 2021 9:37 am

If a tribe has 20 mammoths within their hunting range, the mammoths only have a single offspring every 4 years, and the tribe kills one mammoth per year for a tribal feast, the mammoths will be extinct in a couple of human generations…..
but I still expect it was disease brought by dogs that killed those large mammals off faster, like smallpox killed 80% of North American Indians 30 years ahead of the “explorers”….however disease theory seems verboten by academia….

John Tillman
Reply to  DMacKenzie
December 23, 2021 6:26 am

Not verboten, just no evidence for it, and known not to be the case for extinctions before dogs, as in Oz.

But zoonotic diseases do obviously k!ll people. And Spanish pigs did infect indigenous American swine. But same genus.

Mactoul
Reply to  John Tillman
December 23, 2021 2:05 am

Ben-Dor makes a key point regarding physiological requirements for human nutrition. Humans require fat and can’t consume more than 35% calories as protein. Big animals have more fat than small animals. Invention of agriculture permitted humans to replace fat with carbs thus circumventing the energy crisis humans were facing with lack of big prey.

John Tillman
Reply to  Mactoul
December 23, 2021 6:26 am

Yup.

Teddy Lee
December 22, 2021 4:52 am

If this were so then why are the plains of Africa teeming with game.What was the human population of Africa 500k years ago.I would suggest it was not that large.
They could not have that sort of effect on animal numbers armed only with primitive weapons and tracking and killing heir prey on FOOT.

John Tillman
Reply to  Teddy Lee
December 22, 2021 7:44 am

They not only could have, but did, as shown by archaeology and paleontology.

Last edited 28 days ago by John Tillman
Teddy Lee
December 22, 2021 4:58 am

Why have larger species survived in regions either side of the equator.

John Tillman
Reply to  Teddy Lee
December 22, 2021 7:40 am

They survived in Africa due to having co-evolved there with humans and in southern Asia because of forests. In the Neotropics, they were wiped out by human immigrants, same is in the Arctic and temperate Americas.

Whereever humans went, the megafauna disappeared. Even in Africa, Pleistocene megafaunal species were wiped out.

Joe Chang
December 22, 2021 5:31 am

let give the authors spears and let them demonstrate the technique

John Tillman
Reply to  Joe Chang
December 22, 2021 7:48 am
Mike Edwards
December 22, 2021 5:41 am

I think that the following paper provides a good discussion of the complexities of megafauna extinctions, at least as it applies to North America:

https://www.pnas.org/content/117/46/28555

“Overkill, glacial history, and the extinction of North America’s Ice Age megafauna”
That’s not to say that things are the same in all parts of the world, only that “it’s the humans that did it” is not the only explanation as far as N. America is concerned.

I know from my own country (UK) that humans are well capable of wiping out species from the land that they occupy, but it is all too easy to jump to the conclusion that all recent extinctions must have been caused by the hand of man.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Mike Edwards
December 22, 2021 10:46 am

Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Occam’s Razor.

The stone-age Brits hunted aurochs to extinction. My theory is that pre Stonehenge timber circles were hunting exclosures. Run out, throw a spear at an auroch, and then run inside in case you missed. The hunters also dug deep pits in the Salisbury Plain for trapping aurochs, probably stampeded with deliberate fire. No buffalo jumps there.

Of course, modern Brits are consumed by theories of pagan religious cultism and sacrificed virgins and so miss the practical applications. The original Salisbury steak was auroch.

Mike Edwards
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 22, 2021 3:20 pm

Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”

Read the PNAS paper I linked above. They claim that “it’s wrong” for at least some of the extinctions and give explanations for this. So I’d make the riposte “Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s right” – rather, the whole jigsaw needs to fit.

Clearly this is a controversial area and there are different camps, but the PNAS paper at least provides some context and an outline of the disputes.

I think I’ll skip on the hunting enclosures idea.

Danley Wolfe
December 22, 2021 5:57 am

I am trying to figure out how this is relevant to the current climate change debate … which is the subject of WUWT climate blog.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Danley Wolfe
December 22, 2021 10:56 am

Hey, it’s the I Don’t Approve The Topic guy.

Gently I coax you to consider that the authors clubbed the Climate Is Everything Theory in the head and left it for dead. They have a theory for a phenomenon that doesn’t include dun dun ta dun Climate Changalosity.

The natives here have gone bonkers. How can it be? Climate is our mother’s milk. Nothing can happen except by climate. Oh, the humanity!

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Danley Wolfe
December 22, 2021 2:11 pm

I am trying to figure out how this is relevant to the current climate change debate … which is the subject of WUWT climate blog.

*sigh*

And yet again we must point out to a wilfully ignorant commenter that the blog is

A. Whatever Anthony wants it to be about, and

B. Actually defined as whatever Anthony and his guests find interesting.

If that doesn’t suit you, you are welcome to start your own blog. You are also welcome to ignore topics that you are not interested in.

Last edited 28 days ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
Steve
December 22, 2021 6:03 am

Hunters today are the greatest conservationists on the planet. No single group of humans invests more in animals and their habitat than hunters. Habitat destruction is what leads to extinction. Hunters don’t destroy habitat, they try to conserve it.

John Tillman
Reply to  Steve
December 22, 2021 7:50 am

What modern hunters do and those of 1.5 million to 5000 years ago are very different. Even to those of 100 years ago.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Steve
December 22, 2021 2:12 pm

The best way for animals to survive these days is to be tasty to humans

Mike Edwards
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 22, 2021 3:25 pm

best way for animals to survive these days is to be tasty to humans”

And not only these days.

So the Aurochs is extinct.

Except that all our domesticated cattle (yum, yum) are derived from Aurochs. There are even folks trying to re-create Aurochs by careful breeding from existing cattle.

bonbon
December 22, 2021 6:09 am

Just goes to show people are totally different to any species they hunted. And as for ravaging the environment – look at the sheer number of farm animals today.
Darwinian modelling using animal predator-prey memes, just cannot account for human ingenuity including fire, modular spear slings, skilled organization, agriculture, domestication, breeding, none of which are ¨forced¨ – see the number of times they use that. (Reminiscent of IPCC Climate Forcing).

Walter Harrell
December 22, 2021 6:43 am

Obviously written by people that have NEVER HUNTED. I’ve hunted all my live, it’s very difficult even with modern rifles. You would not choose game that can kill you if anything else is available. As far as game not being used to humans, they learn VERY FAST. Especially herd animals. I bought 80 acres and did not hunt it for 7 years. The deer became very tame on my property even thou they were hunted on all four sides of my property. The 8th year I finally saw a buck large enough to want to take, and that was that…. I didn’t see a deer for a month, and was treated like a threat for the next two years. All it took was killing ONE of them….

Jim
December 22, 2021 7:21 am

I don’t think it was humans but rather natural disasters that drove global extinctions. Why do so many want to blame humans? AKA Global Warming

John Tillman
Reply to  Jim
December 22, 2021 7:51 am

Because that’s where the evidence leads.

Sara
Reply to  Jim
December 22, 2021 9:34 am

They have to have some way to generate a guilt trip. If they don’t have that, the ecohippies have nothing.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Jim
December 22, 2021 11:02 am

Try not to take it personally. It wasn’t you that extincted the mammoths. It was your 1,000 times great grandfather.

Walter Horsting
December 22, 2021 7:41 am

Where did the Clovis people go at the Start of the YD?

50% of all mammals above 100 lbs go extinct.

https://cosmictusk.com/category/younger-dryas-impact-evidence/

John Tillman
Reply to  Walter Horsting
December 22, 2021 7:57 am

Clovis culture lasted long after the start of the YD. As the largest game was wiped out, their culture changed.

Megafauna went extinct before, during and after the YD. Why did megafauna survive in the Caribbean until the arrival on those islands of boat people thousands of years later, if a supposed impact wiped out their kin in Florida, Mexico, Central and South America?

There is no valid evidence of an impact at the YD, and all the evidence in the world that its cause was the same as Heinrich Events, the Older and Middle Dryases and the 8.2 Ka cold snap, ie freshwater pulses into the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

David Middleton(@debunkhouse)
Editor
Reply to  Walter Horsting
December 22, 2021 8:27 am

Clovis people migrated to South America and then vanished about 9,000 years ago…

Now, for the first time, this powerful approach is illuminating the story of ancient humans in Central and South America. An analysis of 49 individuals who lived as long as 11,000 years ago suggests that the Clovis culture, the first known widespread archaeological culture of North America, was also accompanied by a spread of people southward – a migration that some scientists had already suspected.

And then something wholly unexpected happened. Beginning at least 9,000 years ago in Central and South America, the Clovis culture-associated people vanished, Howard Hughes Medical Investigator David Reich and his colleagues report November 8, 2018 in the journal, Cell. The genetic evidence shows they were replaced by a different population.

https://www.hhmi.org/news/clovis-people-spread-central-and-south-america-then-vanished

dmanfred
December 22, 2021 8:41 am

Also going on when they went extinct is the biggest change in the climate in 250,000 years.

A Gore
Reply to  dmanfred
December 22, 2021 11:05 am

Climate Change!!!!!!!!! Whoo whooo! Everybody be SCARED, very SCARED!!!

John Tillman
Reply to  dmanfred
December 23, 2021 6:32 am

No it wasn’t. Not even close.

The Eemian Interglacial was hotter and lasted longer than the Holocene so far.

Clyde Spencer
December 22, 2021 8:44 am

I have found obsidian bird-points around Meteor Crater. Why would the Indians have hunted birds when there were still bison, elk, deer, bear, mountain lions, wolves, javalina(?), coyotes, foxes, etc.? I think an intelligent species (some actually consider humans to be intelligent) would take advantage of any and all game available, and consider the personal risk when given a choice between two opportunities.

Also, smaller game means a solitary hunter can carry the animal back to camp, while a mammoth would require the camp to move to the kill site. Interestingly, evidence seems to suggest that in mass killings at Buffalo Jumps, after the basic needs were met for hides and other body parts, primarily tongues were removed for food. A mammoth was so huge that there was a likelihood of the meat spoiling before it could all be consumed. Knowing that, a tribe might select for less dangerous animals that could be consumed before it spoiled.

I think that these researchers are over-generalizing.

John Tillman
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 23, 2021 6:34 am

Indians hunted a variety of game. They burned to maintain grasslands, to provide fodder for elk and because it’s harder to hunt deer and moose in the woods than elk in the open. Or the odd bison calf.

Olen
December 22, 2021 8:46 am

The key word is hypothesize. An invitation to look at it.

michael hart
December 22, 2021 8:50 am

Partly true, possibly. There are many counter arguments to be made.
I’m increasingly persuaded by some of the Younger Dryas cosmic-impact evidence. Sudden climate change including massive floods from impacts on the ice sheets in North America in particular.
If you hunt around, there are several excellent discussions of this on Youtube (other video sharing programs are available. Youtube just hasn’t got round to censoring these ones yet).

Tom
December 22, 2021 8:52 am

They could be right, but it fits a bit too neatly into the paradigm of “man the environment wrecker”, so you have confirmation bias at work, and I am skeptical.

DMacKenzie
December 22, 2021 8:57 am

Modern hunter/gatherer/nomads had dogs…the dogs had fleas…the fleas carried disease. Disease is a much more like cause of the demise of these large mammals. Who in their right mind wants to get hurt badly trying to kill a mammoth with a pointy stick when you could catch a fish, snare a rabbit, gather birds eggs or berries ?

John Tillman
Reply to  DMacKenzie
December 22, 2021 9:15 am

Because mammoths provide much more meat, plus hide, tusks, bone, fat and other resources. Baby mammoths would have been easy to k!ll, and adults were stampeded over cliffs, or into canyon cul-de-sacs, as shown by archaeological sites.

Why do you suppose that the Pleistocene-Holocene megafaunal extinctions all followed the arrival of humans on the affected continents and islands? And as later happened at sea?

Besides which, as noted above, all Australian megafaunal etinctions happened before dogs got there, as did many of those in Eurasia.

Please state which flea-borne diseases you imagine wiped out giant lizards and marsupials in Oz and even larger proboscideans in Eurasia and the Americas. Thanks!

Last edited 28 days ago by John Tillman