Early humans hunted the largest available animals to extinct

I don't buy it

The accumulation of small heritable changes within populations over time.

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Re: Early humans hunted the largest available animals to extinct

#21  Postby Spearthrower » Dec 23, 2021 8:20 pm

I think it's worth looking at a basic overview of the history of the debate to see how many factors are actually considered:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternar ... hypothesis

The overkill model was proposed back in the 60's, while environmental models began being proposed in the 80's or 90's. What I can say from a general familiarity with the literature is that the overkill model hasn't been overturned. By and large, most anthropologists accept that humans had a hand in the extinction of megafauna; the discussion really is to what extent and by what means.
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Re: Early humans hunted the largest available animals to extinct

#22  Postby The_Metatron » Dec 24, 2021 6:09 pm

Spearthrower wrote:
Hermit wrote:
The_Metatron wrote:Seems to me humanity has rarely, if ever, failed to consume all available resources. Why should the treatment of megafauna be any different?

There may have been an insufficient number of hominid stomachs around to achieve such a mammoth task a million years ago.


But that relies on an assumption that humans were killing them for food. They may also have killed for materials, for prestige, for rites... and perhaps most significantly, unintentionally/indirectly through changing the landscape the animals were strongly adapted for.

Sloth liver with a side dish of mammoth eyeball may be all they wanted.

A few hundred men with rifles nearly killed all the bison here. For their hides alone. Before that, we used to light our streets and lubricate our cars with whale oil.

It's probably likely. For example, I can imagine that if a mammoth earbone did some neat trick for early humans, and those early humans had the means to get those earbones, the rest of the mammoth is just waste. Sure, eat your fill, take what you want, leave what you want, we'll get another tomorrow. They would kill to the limits of their ability to do it.

But, for four million cavemen on foot, the planet was too big. They weren't yet capable of fucking it all up. I'd imagine whole species extinctions would be beyond the cavemen's possible impact to the planet.
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