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Evidence Aquits Clovis People Of Ancient Killings, Archaeologists Say
University Of Washington ^ | 2-25-2003 | Joel Schwartz

Posted on 02/25/2003 4:46:54 PM PST by blam

Contact: Joel Schwarz
University of Washington

Evidence acquits Clovis people of ancient killings, archaeologists say

Archaeologists have uncovered another piece of evidence that seems to exonerate some of the earliest humans in North America of charges of exterminating 35 genera of Pleistocene epoch mammals. The Clovis people, who roamed large portions of North America 10,800 to 11,500 years ago and left behind highly distinctive and deadly fluted spear points, have been implicated in the exterminations by some scientists.

Now researchers from the University of Washington and Southern Methodist University who examined evidence from all suggested Clovis-age killing sites conclude that there is no proof that people played a significant role in causing the extinction of Pleistocene mammals in the New World. Climate change, not humans, was the culprit.

"Of the 76 localities with asserted associations between people and now-extinct Pleistocene mammals, we found only 14 (12 for mammoth, two for mastodon) with secure evidence linking the two in a way suggestive of predation," write Donald Grayson of the UW and David Meltzer of SMU in the current issue of the Journal of World Prehistory. "This result provides little support for the assertion that big-game hunting was a significant element in Clovis-age subsistence strategies. This is not to say that such hunting never occurred: we have clear evidence that proboscideans (mammoths and mastodons) were taken by Clovis groups. It just did not occur very often."

To locate Clovis-age sites that suggested hunting of now-extinct mammals Grayson and Meltzer used FAUNMAP, an electronic database that documents the distribution of mammals in North America during the last 40,000 years. The search excluded areas above the North American ice sheet and sites that were pre- and post-Clovis because it is the Clovis people who have been targeted by proponents of the so-called "overkill" hypothesis.

This search turned up 75 locations in the United States and one in Canada that Grayson and Meltzer evaluated. Forty-seven of the sites did not exhibit minimally acceptable evidence showing an association between artifacts and extinct mammals. Most of these sites were rejected because they were not sufficiently described or documented.

"In many cases there is no published material, and when something is not published we are not able to weigh evidence of a human connection," said Grayson. "In other cases there was just an anecdotal suggestion of artifacts or remains, or there were very sketchy drawings."

Of the remaining 29 sites only 14 survived closer study. To determine this, the researchers looked for settings in which artifacts and animal remains were so closely associated that there was little doubt that their relationship was not accidental. In addition, Grayson and Meltzer searched published evidence for signs of human hunting and butchering and processing. This included cases where projectile points were found among bones or where there was solid evidence of human-caused bone breakage or cut marks.

Mammoth and mastodon bones were the most commonly found remains at the 14 confirmed predation sites, but horse, camel and bison bones also were identified. However, Grayson said there was no evidence that the two horse bones and one camel bone, all from extinct genera, came from animals that had been hunted by humans. There was quite a bit of evidence of human predation of bison, but this genus did not become extinct.

The survey produced no evidence that humans hunted the 33 other genera of extinct animals, which also include sloths, tapirs, bears and sabertooth cats. In fact, only 15 genera can be shown to have survived beyond 12,000 years ago and into Clovis times, said Grayson.

"There is absolutely no evidence that Clovis people were involved with 33 of the extinct genera. Where's the spear point sticking out of a camel or a ground sloth? If you can kill a mammoth you can kill a lumbering ground sloth. Clovis people absolutely did not chase these now-extinct animals relentlessly across the North American landscape," he said.

"The bottom line is that we need to stop wasting our time looking at people as the cause of these extinctions. We suspect the extinctions were driven by climate change. We need to know what aspects of climate change were involved. We have to tackle this species by species, one at a time, and look at the interaction of each species with the climate and vegetation on the ground."

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: District of Columbia
KEYWORDS: archaeologists; archaeology; bison; catastrophism; clovis; clovisimpact; cloviskillings; davidmeltzer; evidence; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; haidagwaii; history; maunderminimum; nagpra; pleistocene; preclovis; precolumbian; solarflares; youngerdryas
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I have always contended that there was never a human population large enough to hunt these animals to extinction. It is also my contention that humans have been in the Americas for at least 200,000 years.

I wouldn't rule out a human virus that crossed species though.

1 posted on 02/25/2003 4:46:54 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
My understanding was NOT that they went out and hunted down these animals one-by-one, but that they did other things that caused mass kill offs, such as starting massive forest fires and hunting a few animals that ran out of the flames.

Burning down forests for a few bites of beef sounds rather silly, though as well.
2 posted on 02/25/2003 4:52:21 PM PST by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: blam
Interesting article.
3 posted on 02/25/2003 4:52:57 PM PST by EggsAckley (nuke the vegan gay whales for jesus)
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To: blam
Finally, the closure I've been needing. ;)
4 posted on 02/25/2003 4:54:43 PM PST by CaptainJustice (Get RIGHT or get left.)
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To: blam
Pretty flimsy evidence to dismiss the predation theory. I would say it has more to do with PC about primitive peoples being at "harmony with nature" and would never "over hunt". There is much evidence to show ancient humans killed far more than they needed. Climte change is ridiculous since many of these mega fauna survived multiple ice ages and ice age withdrawals. There is mucho evidence to show as modern humans spread throughout the planet- soon after mega fauna disappeared. They were easy kills as they had no natural fear of humans as predators.
5 posted on 02/25/2003 4:55:13 PM PST by Burkeman1
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To: blam
Interesting article, thanks.
I have always been fascinated by this; if the soil around our place wasn't all sandy loam I'd be out digging for bones!
6 posted on 02/25/2003 4:57:16 PM PST by RudeJude
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To: who_would_fardels_bear
What? Not our indigenous peoples! No sirree they would not have harmed mother earth or her endangered species.

Probably some white male explores drifted across the Atlantic by accident and then set about causing the mass extinctions.

7 posted on 02/25/2003 4:58:23 PM PST by ElkGroveDan (Fighting for Freedom and Having Fun)
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To: blam
Kennewick Man had a Clovis Spear Head inbedded in him.

Here is the latest regarding the Kennewick Man battle.

Feb. 21, 2003
Court blocks study of bones pending appeal
By The Associated Press

PORTLAND - Eight anthropologists who want to study an ancient skeleton must wait until a federal court has heard an appeal of the case by four Northwest tribes that consider the bones sacred.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision, made last week, prevents any study of the 9,300-year-old skeleton known as Kennewick Man, which scientists have sought to examine since 1996.

With the 9th circuit involved the scientist will never have a chance. For the rest of the article click link below.
Latest on Kennewick Man

8 posted on 02/25/2003 4:58:59 PM PST by Spunky
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: blam
Mmmmmm... grilled ground sloth.
10 posted on 02/25/2003 5:06:02 PM PST by Notforprophet (All rights reversed)
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To: blam
So they werent ecologists, they sure made cool spear points, wish I could find one.
11 posted on 02/25/2003 5:09:15 PM PST by latrans (Live Free or Die)
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To: rabidone
Lack of evidence is not evidence. Just because there is no "smoking gun", which is very hard to produce after 10,000 years, doesn't mean that the theory is discredited. It just means that the criteria that these authors set for evidence was not met.

They found that Clovis people hunted mastodons, and mastodons went extinct shortly after. See, that is proof of climate change causing the extinction. Their logic, that they did not find enough evidence of predation is poor, because how do they define what "enough" evidence is?

12 posted on 02/25/2003 5:10:56 PM PST by marktwain
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To: Burkeman1
From another article I posted some time back.

3. Arguments from New Zealand Maori legends

From New Zealand two arguments come. First we have the Maori legends stating that, several centuries ago, fire came from the sky, burned most of the forests and killed the Moa birds (the Maori adamantly reject the western scholars opinion that overhunting was the reason for the Moa disappearance). Secondly there is the recent finding of a number of shallow and definitely very recent impact craters, named the Tapanui craters, in the South Island. Additionally, layers of soot, datable at the cratering time, have been detected in several places. The Tapanui craters and the presence of soot can be taken as a confirmation that "fire" came from the sky, burned the forests and killed the Moas, as the Maori legends state. The time of the event has been estimated at circa 800 years ago, therefore falling at our proposed date. For more information on the event see Steel and Snow [6] and Pajak [7,8].

13 posted on 02/25/2003 5:12:12 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
It's not just a question of killing things; it's also a question of mobility. Ancient man, particularly in the Americas in which there's no evidence that he ever rode horses or any other animal, simply didn't get around well enough to kill off entire species of animals over whole countries.
14 posted on 02/25/2003 5:16:05 PM PST by merak
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To: marktwain
"Lack of evidence is not evidence. "

The maker of the theory must prove the theory. It is not up to others to disprove. IMO, the theory has not been proven.

15 posted on 02/25/2003 5:16:39 PM PST by blam
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To: rabidone
"Homo sapien sapien has absolutely not been in the New World for 200,000 years."

Read this thread or at least the last three posts.

I have also often thought about how many people were killed in the meteorite that caused the Barringer Crater, 50,000 years ago. (In Arizona) That must have played the devil with all living things in North America, huh?

16 posted on 02/25/2003 5:27:06 PM PST by blam
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To: Carry_Okie; RightWhale; JudyB1938
Jump in here.
17 posted on 02/25/2003 5:34:58 PM PST by blam
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: blam; Carry_Okie
Climate change, not humans, was the culprit.

I thought humans caused climate change. Oh, sorry. I forgot that it is only capitalist humans that cause climate change

20 posted on 02/25/2003 5:57:27 PM PST by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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