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American Megafaunal Extinctions at the End of the Pleistocene

Series: Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series

Edited By: Gary Haynes

210 pages, 32 b/w illus


Hardback | Dec 2009 | #186923 | ISBN-13: 9781402087929
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £85.50 $112/€97 approx

About this book

This volume contains summaries of facts, theories and unsolved problems pertaining to the unexplained extinction of dozens of genera of mostly large terrestrial mammals, which occurred circa 13,000 calendar years ago in North America and about 1,000 years later in South America. Another equally mysterious wave of extinctions affected large Caribbean islands around 5,000 years ago.

The coupling of these extinctions with the earliest appearance of human beings has led to the suggestion that foraging humans are to blame, although major climatic shifts were also taking place in the Americas during some of the extinctions.

Different chapters in this book provide in-depth resumes of the chronology of the extinctions in North and South America, the possible insights into animal ecology provided by studies of stable isotopes and anatomical/physiological characteristics such as growth increments in mammoth and mastodont tusks, the clues from taphonomic research about large-mammal biology, the applications of dating methods to the extinctions debate, and archeological controversies concerning human hunting of large mammals.

(1) The Early Settlement of North America: The Clovis Era (Cambridge U. Press, 2002)

a #I found The Early Settlement of North America most impressive. Haynes presents a wide-ranging, lively, detailed discussion of his ideas and supporting data. He provides a rich supply of interpretations and testable hypotheses, which will generate continued debate on a host of seemingly intractable topics centered on the peopling of the New World.a (TM) Vance Holliday in Science.

Customer Reviews From

Clovis Tradition, first Americans?, April 11, 2004


Dale Guthrie (Fairbanks, AK United States) -

This book is a gem. There is no other book about the first Americans that has such an even handed thoughtful analysis of the complex array of data involved in the controversy. Haynes is one of the key players in this controversy and his research has cleared up much of the confusion around what can be considered reliable archaeological evidence of human presence. His work with African elephants throws considerable light on how bones can be broken or otherwise altered by natural processes and appear as pseudoartifacts. The book provides a rich background and is written in a readable style for most scientically literate readers. It should be on the shelf of any anthropologist, archaeologist, geologist, ecologist, or enthusiast interested in the peopling of the Americas at the end of the Pleistocene

Human Behavior Ecology in Clovis, March 25, 2003

By A Customer

This book was a thoughtful reinterpretation of the existing data pertaining to the nature of Clovis lifeways and settlement in the New World. Rather than concerning himself with the nature ortiming of the first Americans, Haynes introduces an ecological perspective to the study of Clovis, a population movement model in which adopting a very specialized adaptive strategy would enable a 'fugitive' culture such as Clovis to spread rapidly throughout the New World.

(2) Mammoths, Mastodonts, and Elephants: Biology, Behavior, and the Fossil Record (Cambridge U. Press, 1991)

"The book is well written, with illustrations and tables provided to support important conclusions.a (TM) Science

a #Of greatest value for paleontologists and archaeologists, but advanced undergraduates interested in the techniques of historical sciences could read it profitably.a (TM) Choice

a # a ] an enthralling book which anyone interested in elephants or mammoths will enjoy.a (TM) Times Higher Education Supplement

a #The scholarly title obscures the real topic. In fact, this volume is a brilliant murder mystery.a (TM) Scientific American


Chapter 1: Introduction to the volume, Gary Haynes
Chapter 2: Sudden deaths: the chronology of Terminal Pleistocene megafaunal extinction, Stuart Fiedel
Chapter 3: Estimates of Clovis-era megafaunal populations and their extinction risks, Gary Haynes
Chapter 4: Paleobiology and extinction of proboscideans in the Great Lakes region of North America, Daniel C. Fisher
Chapter 5: Human prey choice in the Late Pleistocene and its relation to megafaunal extinctions, Todd A. Surovell and Nicole M. Waguespack
Chapter 6: Ancient DNA and the genetic consequences of Late Pleistocene extinctions, Alex D. Greenwood
Chapter 7: Did humans cause the Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene mammalian extinctions in South America in a context of shrinking open areas? Alberto L. Cione, Eduardo P. Tonni, and Leopoldo Soibelzon Chapter 8: The elusive evidence: the archeological record of the South American extinct megamammals, Luis Alberto Borrero
Chapter 9: Insulae infortunatae: establishing a chronology for Late Quaternary mammal extinctions in the West Indies, R.D.E. MacPhee
Chapter 10: Afterword, and thoughts about the future literature, Gary Haynes

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Gary Haynes, archeologist and author of two related books, Mammoths, Mastodonts, and Elephants (Cambridge University Press, 1993) and The Early Settlement of North America: The Clovis Era (Cambridge University Press, 2002). He has spent nearly 30 years working in actualistic studies of large-mammal bones in Africa, Australia, and North America, and has also been deeply involved in Paleoindian research for even longer.

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