Hu­mans played ma­jor role in demise of an­cient mam­mals

Timeless Travels Magazine - - ARCHAEOLOG­ICAL NEWS -

Ra­dio­car­bon anal­y­sis of the de­cline and ex­tinc­tion of large mam­mals in the Amer­i­cas lends sup­port to the idea that hunt­ing by hu­mans led to the an­i­mals’ demise – and backs the gen­er­ally ac­cepted un­der­stand­ing of when hu­mans ar­rived in, and how they colonised, the Western Hemi­sphere.

These find­ings by Univer­sity of Wyoming re­searchers sup­port a hy­poth­e­sis for­warded in 1973 by geo­sci­en­tist Paul Martin that the chronol­ogy of the ex­tinc­tion of an­i­mals such as mam­moths, mastodons, camels, horses and ground sloths in the Amer­i­cas could be used to map the spread of hu­mans through the New World.

The study in­volved com­pil­ing ra­dio­car­bon dates from fos­sils of now- ex­tinct an­i­mals from North and South America and look­ing at how those dates cor­re­spond with ini­tial ev­i­dence of hu­man coloni­sa­tion. The re­searchers found that, as Martin pre­dicted, de­cline and ex­tinc­tion of the large mam­mals be­gan be­tween 13,300-15,000 years ago in Alaska and ar­eas near the Ber­ing Strait; be­tween 12,900-13,200 years ago in the con­tigu­ous United States; and be­tween 12,600-13,900 years ago in South America.

That sup­ports the gen­er­ally ac­cepted un­der­stand­ing of how hu­mans colonised the Amer­i­cas: first, that they crossed from Siberia to Alaska across a Ber­ing Strait land bridge; and then that they moved south­ward across North America and into South America.

Par­tic­i­pants in the niver­sity of Wyoming’s Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ield chool work at the site of a mam­moth kill near aPrele Creek in Con­verse County.

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