Did humans cause the mass extinction of megafauna during the Late Pleistocene period?

Did humans cause the mass extinction of megafauna during the Late Pleistocene period?

Length: 1595 words (4.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Importance of question for archeological research:

It's hard to say that humans haven't had an impact on their environment. Climate change, for example, has been a hot issue in the developed world ever since evidence proving the existence of human-caused global warming was unleashed leading to an onslaught of theories regarding its potential effect on our future. But what impact did humans have thousands of years ago when they were first colonizing North America?
The question of what caused the extinction of megafauna during the Late Pleistocene period is one that archaeologists have struggled to answer for decades, but why should it matter? Discovering with certainty the cause of megafaunal extinction would simultaneously prove or disprove any of the proposed implications of each existing theory regarding this massive extinction.
In order to better understand these "implications," it is necessary to define and explain the major theories regarding North American megafaunal extinction. The two most widely supported theories are those of environmental change and overkill. Two theories finding less support within the field are those of hyperdisease and "keystone herbivores."

Theories and Proposed Implications
Paul Martin, the most famous and frequently cited proponent of the most popular North American overkill or "blitzkrieg" theory proposes the following ideas: 1) the disappearance of megafauna followed within 1,000 years the proposed first introduction of man into North America (Martin P. S. 969). 2) Kill sites are nonexistent for the majority of extinct megafauna because the prey was so ill equipped to deal with the Clovis hunters that they did not have to be tricked or trapped and disappeared s...

... middle of paper ...

...he Keystone Megaherbivore theory uses evidence from extant African large herbivores to suggest that the loss of a (352

Owen-Wilson suggests that wile megaherbivores are not particularly prone to disturbance by predators or the weather, their populations tend to grow up until the point of nutritional deficiency which curiously leads to other vegetation components being trampled or broken by the trampling of megaherbivores (Owen-Smith 355). Sometimes, such damage can actually lead to the creation of different landscapes that provide a "higher biomass of accessible forage" (Owen-Smith 355). However, not all land lends to this kind of lucky damage and megaherbivores can also severely decrease the biomass of accessible forage. In fact, whether or not the megaherbivore will help or hinder is largely dependent on the water resources in the trampled areas (Owen-Smith 356).

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on A Reproduction Of The Face Of A Neanderthal Man

- The exhibit used for this paper is a reproduction of the face of a Neanderthal man in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The artist, John Gurche, recreated what a Neanderthal man might look based on the differences in skull structures of Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthals) and Homo sapiens (modern humans) in order to provide visitors with a more relatable vision of Neanderthals. The exhibit is part of a collection of recreations of extinct hominids meant to provide an image of what ancient hominids may have looked like....   [tags: Human, Neanderthal, Pleistocene, Megafauna]

Powerful Essays
1347 words (3.8 pages)

The Fourth Extinction By Elizabeth Kolbert Essay

- On a day to day basis, most people take for granted the lives we get to live, and put too much value on the extra things such as materialistic items. Also, the majority of humans are too invested in their personal lives or with themselves that they do not look at the big picture of how what we are doing now will effect us later. As humans, the routines in our lives can bring us harm, and within time a we may become the sixth extinction. In “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert, she gives many examples of animals that are or may become extinct....   [tags: Extinction, Human, Species, Megafauna]

Powerful Essays
1503 words (4.3 pages)

Essay about Permian Period Mass Extinction

- Throughout Earth’s history there have been many changes. These changes have consisted of temperature fluctuations, atmospheric differentiations, extinctions of various plant and animal life, etc. Over time everything seems to have evolved in some way form or fashion. However, the Permian Era extinction was different from all the rest. This extinction affected every form of life, but especially the marine life. Researchers have stated that 93-97% of all Earths species went extinct during this period of time....   [tags: Paleozoic Era, global warming, species, Earth]

Powerful Essays
1113 words (3.2 pages)

Dinosaurs And The Extinction Of Dinosaurs Essay

- The prominent theory is that dinosaurs died in a fiery death due to an asteroid crash on Earth, but is that really what caused their mass extinction. Every scientist has a theory, and with so many out there it was hard to just pick one, they all made sense. It is completely possible for a volcano to have killed the dinosaurs, or even an asteroid. Another popular theory was the ice age. These were all plausible reasons for the extinction of dinosaurs, and that’s when the combination theory was discovered....   [tags: Dinosaur, Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event]

Powerful Essays
1735 words (5 pages)

The Extinction Of The Earth Essay

- The Earth is far and away the most biodiverse planet in our solar system, with about 8.7 million more unique species than the other 8 planets (UNEP). However, the Earth’s commanding lead is shrinking; not because the other planets are increasing biodiversity, but because Earth’s is decreasing. According to the World Wildlife Fund, we as a planet are losing 1,000 to 10,000 more species than the natural rate. Since the total number of species is hard to pin down, this can mean anywhere from 200 to 10,000 species going extinct per year (World Wildlife Fund)....   [tags: Extinction, Endangered species]

Powerful Essays
1204 words (3.4 pages)

Animal Extinction Of Endangered Animals Essay

- Wildlife has been living alongside man for as long as our species has been a part of this world, and the wildlife has even been here longer. You’d think that with man and animal coexisting in each other’s presence we’d respect the wild species that we have now a lot more than we do. Many people, whether they’re aware or not, are slaughtering animals all the way to extinction, and there are definitely more ways than one that humans are partaking in the extinction of endangered animals. We have to clean up our act before it’s too late for these animals, including us....   [tags: Extinction, Endangered species, Plant]

Powerful Essays
1257 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on The Cretaceous Extinction Event

- Cretaceous Extinction Event Causes, Evidence, and Effects on Biodiversity The most significant event of the Cretaceous era came at its end. Nearly 65 million years ago, the second most severe mass extinction in earth’s history occurred. This resulted in the loss of around 80% of species living at the time. Though nowhere near as severe as the end-Permian mass extinction, the end-Cretaceous extinction is the most well known mass extinction event. This is due to the violent event that caused it the extinction, as well as the chapter of earth’s history that it closed: the Dinosaurs....   [tags: mass extinction, dinosaur, asteriord]

Powerful Essays
1325 words (3.8 pages)

The Permo-Triassic Mass-extinction and the Earth´s Triassic Period Essay

- The Permo-Triassic mass-extinction was a key event in the history of the earth. (Paleobiology and Biodiversity Research Group). This has also been informally known as the Great Dying. The Permian-Triassic extinction occurred 251.4 million years ago, forming the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods. This event was also the last periods of the Paleozoic Era. After so many years scientist still have not found the true cause behind such a horrible event. Some scientist have suggested many possible causes for the extinction such as: severe volcanism, a nearby supernova, environmental changes caused by the formation of a super continent, the devastating impact of a large ast...   [tags: Animals, Plants, Life]

Powerful Essays
614 words (1.8 pages)

Why I Am Always Late Essay

- For the last two years of my life, I thought my name was “you’re late.” It was the first thing everyone seemed to say to me. If I heard this once, I heard it a hundred times in my 16 years of life. I do understand it is very disrespectful, but I do come by it honestly. My dad’s family is always late. My life is spent sitting around waiting for one of them to arrive. I guess when you are brought up in that atmosphere; it must rub off on you. It drives my mother nuts. Well this wonderful family trait is where my story gets its roots....   [tags: late, school, trouble, policy]

Powerful Essays
754 words (2.2 pages)

Mass Extinction Essay

- ABSTRACT Several mass extinctions have occurred during the Earth’s history. The Cretaceous – Tertiary Boundary (K-T) Extinction caused the loss of at least three-quarters of all species known at that time including the dinosaurs. The cause of this mass extinction is a controversial subject among scientists but the fossil evidence of it’s occurrence is abundant. INTRODUCTION The K-T Extinction occurred 65 million years ago. Many species perished in that extinction. Today evidence for this extinction can be seen in the fossil record....   [tags: K-T Extinction]

Powerful Essays
2446 words (7 pages)