Maybe Humans Didn’t Drive Mastodons To Extinction
Maybe humans weren’t to blame for the demise of the American mastodon after all.
For years, conventional wisdom held that mastodons were hunted to extinction in North America some 10,000 years ago. But a new study echoes previous research indicating that mastodons and most of the other big animals that once lived on the continent, known as megafauna, may have already died out before humans migrated to North America from Asia.
“We’re not saying that humans were uninvolved in the megafauna’s last stand 10,000 years ago. But by that time, whatever the mastodon population was down to, their range had shrunken mostly to the Great Lakes region,” study co-author Dr. Ross MacPhee, a curator in the mammalogy department at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, said in a written statement. “That’s a very different scenario from saying the human depredations caused universal loss of mastodons across their entire range within the space of a few hundred years, which is the conventional view.”