Skip to comments.DNA study suggests hunting did not kill off mammoth
Posted on 09/11/2013 3:59:46 AM PDT by Renfield
Researchers have found evidence to suggest that climate change, rather than humans, was the main factor that drove the woolly mammoth to extinction.
A DNA analysis shows that the number of creatures began to decrease much earlier than previously thought as the world's climate changed.
It also shows that there was a distinct population of mammoth in Europe that died out around 30,000 years ago.
The results have published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The view many researchers had about woolly mammoths is that they were a hardy, abundant species that thrived during their time on the planet....
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...
So then it’s George Bush’s fault...
Oh, good. One less thing for me to feel guilty about. I’m sure it was SUV emissions.
Thank God for climate change. God works in mysterious ways.
Go check your tires....Right now...lest we all die!!
What group of morons actually believe that early man - with only primitive weapons could hunt, kill and carve up those massive beasts for food?
Some wooly mammoth bones have been found which show evidence of cutting as in butchering, not animal predation. I think there's agreement among paleontologists and other scientists that early Man did indeed hunt and kill mammoths, albeit not in a number to threaten their extinction as the article indicates. Anyway, that's the group of morons who believe humans could and did kill mammoths.
I always thought is was a sudden freeze.
Maybe those who know that primitive weapons could be used to take down elephants. Ivory was being shipped out of Africa long before firearms were introduced there.
Or were you being sarcastic?
OK - I’ll concede that early man may have seen food opportunity in animals that were already dead (by predators age, misadventure or disease)....but I still question whether they had the tools for hunting, trapping and killing such massive creatures.
Not being sarcastic - but skeptical. Please inform on the primitive weapons that were used to kill elephants.
It would seem more likely that dead carcasses were scavenged for ivory and meat. i.e. Old, large elephants have bigger tusks. Dead elephants are less risky than agile, live ones.
If there was a meat shortage...maybe...but there was not. So they killed and ate a few...big deal...
Since animals adapt to a lot of different conditions given enough time, we can assume that the climate change was very sudden.
Cave Man 1: “I got an idea: let’s sharpen some long sticks and try to poke and kill a mammoth? Whose with me?”
Cave Man 2: “ Yeah right...”
I thought it was all the cigarettes and booze.
I guess that makes me an ancillary moron. Or, maybe just a moron hanger-on.
The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes:
Flood, Fire, and Famine
in the History of Civilization
by Richard Firestone,
Allen West, and
Many scientists hold that dogs were domesticated at around the same time.
Now, you have a large prey animal, perhaps backed into a dead end, a few large, wolflike dogs snapping at its feet, holding it at bay, and a tribe of men with spears, etc.
Yeah, I’d say they could feasibly take down a mammoth.
For the last time, rumors that I was going to extract blood from a prehistoric mosquito to recreate mammoth DNA are COMPLETELY unfounded!
The pattern seems to fit forcing by natural climate change: any role of humans in the process has yet to be demonstrated”.’
Now, WHY do I detect a hint of human generated climate change catastrophy SOMEWHERE in this script?
*shrugs* Not a hunter huh? Never messed with snares or traps? The principles remain the same, just extrapolated to larger sizes. I don't see hunting any animal as being particularly daunting Just a matter of the right trap and presentation to turn the odds decidedly in your favor... Then the proper tool to kill it.
I don't think running up and killing it with spears (as usually depicted) was necessarily all there was to that story.
I had read as a child that some of the western indian tribes would herd buffalo to a cliff and run them over it.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is north of me in Alberta Canada, and the Madison Buffalo Jump is over the hump by Bozeman, MT... It was a common practice.
Folks forget that the horse was a very recent addition to Native culture in the Americas (and I wonder about the bow too) Without such things,(and even with them as the Jumps prove) it is easier, and far less risky to herd an animal over a cliff, or into a squeeze chute in order to dispatch it without risk - I think that such practices were naturally far more prevalent.
Every hunter (including man) is an opportunist, with risk necessarily lent more weight than anything else.
“Not being sarcastic - but skeptical. Please inform on the primitive weapons that were used to kill elephants.”
It is a scientifically proven fact that “primitive” man hunted and killed all sorts of large animals, including all species of elephants (african/indian, mastodon, mammoth, etc.), bison (which were up to twice as big as modern bison), whales of all kinds, “cave” bears and lions, etc.
There are abundant documented instances of such kills in the anthropological literature.
Flint-tipped spears and lances are very effective killing tools, as is the atl-atl, and the bow-arrow when it came along. These people also used cliffs, jumps, and other traps to outright kill or confine their prey prior to killing them.
Don’t write off the “primitive” tool kit that ancient men used. It was very efficient and effective. And don’t forget that they were as smart as we are (and smarter than most modern people, in view). The human brain is the most effective killing tool around.
Pits have also been used to trap game. It wouldn't surprise me if many of these techniques have been used since the dawn of man.
Too bad, that would totally work. ;’)
Where to begin on this “study”?
Let's start with the end of the Ice Age. Well, there isn't one. We're still in it. The last glaciation maximum ended, but the world is STILL in the Ice Age. There have been hundreds of glaciation maximums, all followed by sudden, massive warming, and the various pachyderms and mega fauna survived them all. So just what so different about this last one, that whole ecologies of large animals died out so thoroughly—and where they DID NOT die out?
Yep. Mankind. Everywhere mankind appeared, the mega fauna did too. Except for Africa and South Asia. Aborigines hit Australia 50-45,000 years ago, a land of enormous wombats big as hippos, goanna’s the size of dinosaurs, giant kangaroos everywhere. All died out in the first 5,000 years of man's arrival.
Mankind arrives in Northern Europe around 20-15,000 years ago; same thing. Siberia, also, same time frame, same demise of the Mammoth, Woolly Rhino, etc. Mankind arrives in the Americas a few millennium later, then within a few centuries, the mammoth dies out, along with the American horse, camel, giant ground sloth, giant beaver, giant bison, mastodon, short-faced bear, American lion, saber tooth, all now extinct.
And once again I remind you, the glaciers came and went hundreds of times, and all these creatures survived hundreds of cooling and warmings just fine. So what really happened?
Homo Sapiens Sapiens, the worlds premier badass!
I left a part out:
So why didn’t mega fauna die out in Africa and South Asia?
Well, that is where mankind evolved, and those animals evolved with him. They had a learned fear of this strange skinny new predator with sticks. Those others in other places took one look and thought, “What’s that weakling gonna do with that little stick? Ha Ha!”
That was their final thought as those sticks with the razor sharp obsidian blade started to cut them up!
Or they could corner it/trap it in a ravine or narrow place and hurl boulders at it or dig a pit for it to fall into or lasso it.
Lots of options for hunting large game, even back then, if you use a little creativity and knowledge of the terrain.
They warmed up by attacking some giant bison, much larger than any living bison, for a warm-up.
Thank y’all for the input. Still having trouble with early man developing materials to build traps and plan hunting expeditions for large, threatening mammoths. Perhaps they did chase them over cliffs or built corrals out of fallen trees and vines. I just don’t see them as having manufactured rope, metal and sufficient numbers to accomplish ‘hunting trips’. More like accidental luck when the mammoths succumbed to natural causes, accidents or other predatory animals. Also must have taken a lot of flint tools to butcher the carcasses. Much more practical to catch small critters.
Still a good discussion. Thx. Now I’ll go to the library;)
Be assured that “early” man was fully capable of doing all this, and perhaps more that we don’t know about (since all actions don’t leave archaeological remains).
Don’t forget that “early” man was in reality fully modern in terms of mental and cultural capabilities. What they were mainly lacking was more advanced technologies, such as metal working, electronics, etc. that we think are indispensable for life; but in reality these technologies are not required for advanced cultures or ways of life.
They had all that you mentioned (ropes, corrals, etc.) and more; and in a lot of cases, flint/stone tools are superior to “modern” tools (i.e. metal/steel) for some tasks, such as dressing out kills (look up archaeological studies that tested out using such tools for tasks such as potential for killing, penetration, dressing carcasses, etc.). Stone tools are actually sharper than steel tools, keep their edges longer, and are easier to re-sharpen. (They are just lacking the tensile strength of steel.)
Don’t sell early man and their technologies short. We (modern men) tend to look disdainfully down on earlier cultures for no reason other than they were before us. Culture doesn’t necessarily “evolve” in one direction.
Fascinating topic - now reading Dorling Kindersley ‘History of the World’. Still trying to pin down the time line of the woolly mammoth vs. the homo sapiens population by area/land mass.
Clearly, early man had highly developed survival skills; learned and innate...which still exist in wild animals (squirrels are my favorite Einsteins) and observed in feral dogs.
Agree with you that ‘modern’ man has lost the many ‘natural’ instincts of our ancestors; especially the ability to improvise in crises or necessity. As an old woman, I can fix anything with a hammer, but have no idea how to text on an IPhone;)
Devolution - we are going backward like zombies.
Yeah, those guys were chimps. /s
There is no doubt they hunted and killed mammoths with regularity. However, the claim that they hunted the mammoths to extinction is b.s. And those "early" men of 20,000 years ago had the same mental abilities that modern people do.
I always pick up any obsidian I find. Sometimes a small flake will have one sharp edge. Get to handling it and suddenly you find a way it fits between your thumb and a finger or two very comfortably, and leaves the razor edge exposed for cutting.
A few years back we were about to skin an elk and my boy asked if we could use obsidian. Why not? He got a hunk and I am not a good knapper, but I can whack a hunk with a rock until a big flake comes off. And it comes of ridiculously sharp. I sliced inside the legs and down the belly faster than any knife ever did. The sharp edge was a semi-circle about 4" long and made an incredible skinning blade and the elk was done in minutes.
And sometimes, it helps to get lucky when hunting the big stuff
A quote you might find interesting:
"Good quality obsidian fractures down to single molecules which can produce a cutting edge 500 times sharper than the sharpest steel scalpel blade ("American Medical News", Nov. 2, 1984:21)."
Yep, that’s why they have used obsidian for eye surgery.
“Not being sarcastic - but skeptical. Please inform on the primitive weapons that were used to kill elephants.”
American Indians used to hunt buffalo by using the terrain and strategically set wild fires to stampede them off of cliffs.
That was often wasteful, of course, but there were far too many buffalo to worry about ever killing them all.
Cave Man 1: I got an idea: lets dig a huge pit on the mammoth trail and put long, sharp sticks at the bottom. We’ll cover it with branches and leaves, and see if we can stampede a mammoth into it.
Cave Man 2: I’ll help dig, but you can do the stampeding.”
Cave Man 1: “Hold muh beer.”
***However, the claim that they hunted the mammoths to extinction is b.s.***
Unless...they took less risk & killed too many small, young mammoths; thus diminishing the numbers of future breeders.
Have noticed how my dogs do not attack baby rabbits or squirrels....they just play with them and chase them away.
Which, in the wild, allows for breeders and future food.
Shot in the early '50s, Marshall follows the Ju/'hoansi, a band of diminutive Kalahari Bushmen, as they successfully hunt a giraffe with their toy-like neurotoxin laced arrow. I submit that a giraffe certainly qualifies as mega fauna. Certainly some of their tool kit utilizes modern materials, but not to the extent that it changes the outcome.
Briefly, scouting parties deploy, one group finds and shoots a giraffe and subsequently follows for several days as the neurotoxin takes effect. When the quarry is finally brought down, the band assembles to butcher, transport, distribute, and preserve their bounty.
You should have more confidence in the ability of your fellow man to adapt and profit in their environment.
"A farmer, digging his cellar, almost two meters below ground level, struck the massive lower jaw of a mammoth with his spade. The jawbone was upside down, and had been inserted into the bottom of another jaw like a child's building brick. In fact, as subsequent excavation showed, a complete ring of these inverted interlocking jaws formed the solid base of a roughly circular hut four or five meters across. About three dozen huge, curving mammoth tusks had been used as arching supports for the roof and for the porch, some of them still left in their sockets in the skulls. Separate lengths of tusks were even linked in laces by a hollow sleeve of ivory that fitted over the join. It has been stimated that the total of bones incorporated in the structure must have belonged to a minimum of ninety-five mammoths. This need ,not be a measure of some prodigious hunting feat, since gnawing marks of carnivores suggest that many of them were scavenged. However, the task of dragging the enormous skulls across country should not be underestimated since a-small one weighed about one hundred kilograms." link
Like the article says, they didn't necessarily hunt and kill all the mammoths used to create the structure, but they have found many of these sites in Russia, the Ukraine and Poland, so this isn't some rare anomaly. It's difficult to believe that these structures were all constructed by tidy humans policing up mammoth litter.
They've also found numerous "butcher sites" in the U.S. consisting of mammoth bones with cut marks, and stone artifacts. Maybe these were just examples where humans found a dead or dying mammoth and they took advantage of an opportunity, but I don't see why it would be beyond their abilities to spear a mammoth with a 6-inch long Clovis point and then follow it for a few days until it dropped. After all, thousands of pounds of meat could be gained with a fairly low risk.
The reason I don't believe humans are responsible for causing the extinction of the mammoth is because dozens of other species went extinct around the same time.
Not clear how many mammoths in a herd - but the math of female maturity & reproduction vs. hunting and climate should be considered also.
A female mammoth reaches maturity at 15 with a gestation period of 22 months. Not clear on life expectancy - but if hunters killed off pregnant females (or in estrus) and/or their young...that could have caused a severe repopulation problem.
I just think too much was going on to blame humans for the mammoths. Too many other species (dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, cave bears, giant bison, North American camels and horses, etc.) died out at the same time.
There is a natural sort of husbandry involved in the hunter-gatherer lifestyle - Game becomes scarce long before any regional extinction level - The economy of successful hunts depends upon flourishing herds. When the fishing gets bad because of over-fishing, when herds diminish and get spooky because of over-hunting, when resources diminish to a point of difficulty (wood for fire as an example), a Hunter-Gatherer culture begins to starve, and is forced to move on.
As a general principle, this can be seen in native tribes, that would often travel great distances between summer and winter habitation. It is the advent of farming - a food source not tied to the natural economy of the land - and the eventual construction of cities, that made (make) humans capable of extinction level hunting.
As for rope, give me a nettle patch and an afternoon, and I can make you more cordage than you ever thought possible - and nettles grow everywhere. And that cordage can be twisted together to make very serviceable ropes. And for more strength and durability, let's not forget sinew and rawhide, which would probably be used for things needing more permanence (putting an axe head onto an handle, as an instance).
Metal is overrated. Again, give me an afternoon and a decent quarry site, and I will hand you a serviceable axe, a knife, six arrow-heads, and a spear-point. The difficulty is really not in the knapping (albeit that it takes a touch), so much as in the handles. Finding long, straight shafts can really be a difficulty... Shaping wood is very hard, and binding the stone to the handle is equally difficult using plant-based cordage (only necessary until one gets a kill, where rawhide or gut will do much better). Really, the stone work is the 'easy' part.
Flint and obsidian are surprisingly durable, and putting an edge back on is not a terrible chore.
Small game is probably easier - in that you are correct - but small game is virtually *gone* in the winter, when it is very difficult to move around. No, I will guarantee that large prey was certainly on the menu, and for the same reason that a moose is preferred to a deer... One hunt can guarantee the winter for a family. One mammoth would likewise supply the needs for possibly four families in the same case.
No doubt, an Hunter-Gatherer tribe would certainly take advantage of carrion and wounded animals, but these cannot be *counted on*. There is no doubt in my mind that large animals were hunted purposefully.