June 10, 2007

Blame comet, not Indians

New Theory on Old Debate:  Comet Killed the MammothThere are intriguing new clues in the mystery of how the woolly mammoth met its demise in North America more than 10,000 years ago.

For decades, scientists have debated whether the giant, elephant-like beasts were driven to extinction by the arrival of overzealous human hunters or by global warming at the end of the Pleistocene era, the last great Ice Age. Some say it was a combination of the two.

Recently, a group of more than two dozen scientists offered a new explanation. They have found signs that a comet--or multiple fragments of one--exploded over Canada about 12,900 years ago with the force equivalent to millions of nuclear weapons. That unleashed, they said, a tremendous shock wave that destroyed much of what was in its path and ignited wildfires across North America.
Comment:  This is relevant because people have used the megafauna extinction to claim proto-Indians were greedy and rapacious rather than frugal and ecologically minded. In other words, it's the first evidence, chronologically speaking, that Natives were savage and barbaric.

2 comments:

russell said...

Writerfelola here --
But --- if it was a comet, then it would not have mattered that Natives predated on the mammoths at all. That's always the circumstances of situations: blame one factor as the main one and others reveal themselves later. North America's giant mammals disappeared when they were supposed to, and North America's human population had to survive the same factors. That they did not disappear means they were more adaptive. Until EuroMan arrived. Logical? Damn straight...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

russell said...

Writerfella here --
POSTSCRIPTUM -- There also is evidence that mammoths survived up to as recently as 2500 years ago, becoming isolated on islands in the Artic Ocean off Siberia. The changing warming climate reduced their food supplies and so the mammoths did what mammals always do under such adversity -- they changed size and shrank roughly to the size of Clydesdales. THEN they went extinct...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'