Paleoindians and the Great Pleistocene Die-Off
American MastodonLinks to Online Resources
• Pleistocene and other Mass Extinctions
• The Ice Age
• Paleoindians and the First Americans
• Pleistocene Animals
• Reports and Websites cited in the essay
PLEISTOCENE and other MASS EXTINCTIONS
“Humans and Other Catastrophes”
A first-stop site on the topic, full of resources for the beginner and scholar, from the American Museum of Natural History; including
14,000 Years Ago (Introduction to the exhibition)
Explaining Extinctions: Overkill, Climate, Disease, Keystone, and Combination hypotheses
“End of the Big Beasts”
Summary essay by Peter Tyson, editor-in-chief of the PBS series NOVA, in website accompanying the NOVA documentary “America’s Stone Age Explorers” (2004).
Pleistocene Megafauna Extinctions
Article by William Stevens that reviews the main extinction hypotheses: overkill, climate, disease, and combination; published in the New York Times, 29 April 1997, and reproduced on the site Canyons, Cultures, and Environmental Change: Land Use History of the Colorado Plateau, part of LUHNA, the Land Use History of North America project, U.S. Geological Survey.
“Extinction and Depletion from Over-Exploitation”
Easy-to-follow summary of the extinction theories from Dr. Peter J. Bryant, School of Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine (a chapter in his online text Biodiversity and Conservation).
“Siberian Expedition: Wrangel Island”
Online exhibition on the hyperdisease hypothesis of the Pleistocene extinctions and the 1998 research expedition to Wrangel Island near Siberia to gather evidence from mammoth remains; from the American Museum of Natural History.
“Who Killed the Mammoths?”
A museum “biobulletin” on the hyperdisease hypothesis, including a section entitled “The Riddle of Mass Extinctions,” from the American Museum of Natural History.
“Multispecies Overkill Simulation”
Computer model of human over-hunting developed by Dr. John Alroy, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of California, Santa Barbara.
“Extinctions in Madagascar: A Real-Life Whodunnit”
Interview on the Madagascar extinctions with Dr. David Burney, a paleoecologist in the Dept. of Biological Sciences, Fordham University; from the Environmental Review, Vol. II No. 12 (December 1995).
New Zealand Extinctions
Presentation on the extinctions of New Zealand fauna, especially birds (including the moa) by Richard Holdaway, a private researcher and an Honorary Research Associate, Department of Zoology, University of Canterbury, New Zealand; on the site “Humans and Other Catastrophes” from the American Museum of Natural History; see above.
THE ICE AGE
“Return to the Ice Age”
Excellent overview from the Page Museum of the famous Rancho La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, considered “the largest and most diverse assemblage of extinct Ice Age plants and animals in the world”; from the Page Museum, Los Angeles, California.
Thorough overview for the layman—offers more than suggested by the simple home page; from the Illinois State Museum.
Overview helpful for a younger school audience (upper elementary/middle school), from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Paleoenvironmental Atlas of Beringia
Online atlas and research data (updated regularly) from the Paleoclimatology Program, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
PALEOINDIANS AND THE FIRST AMERICANS
The People of the American Continents
A layman’s brief summary of the standard theories, with active links in the text; from CogWeb, UCLA.
“How and When Did People First Come to North America?”
Still accessible to the layman, a more technical overview with maps, graphs, and references, by Dr. E. James Dixon, University of Colorado, in Athena Review: Journal of Archaeology, History, and Exploration (Vol. 3, No. 2 / 2002).
Introduction to the current discussion plus a reading list, from the Smithsonian Institution online exhibition.
“New Answers to an Old Question: Who Got Here First?”
Article by John Noble Wilford on recent findings at pre-Clovis sites in Chile, eastern U.S. and elsewhere that have “plunged American archaeology into a new period of tumult and uncertainty over its oldest mystery”; from the New York Times, 9 November 1999.
“Mystery of the First Americans”
Educational website accompanying the 2000 NOVA / PBS documentary; includes a section on Kennewick Man.
Center for the Study of the First Americans
Online articles from the publication Mammoth Trumpet (see http://www.centerfirstamericans.org/mt.php) from this center at Texas A&M University.
“Monte Verde [Chile] under Fire”
Discussion and resources on the Monte Verde controversy—whether this paleoindian site is the oldest in the Western Hemisphere; from Archaeology and the Archaeological Institute of America (1999).
Cactus Hill, Virginia: “Early New World Settlers Rise in East”
Report on excavations of a pre-Clovis paleoindian site in Virginia; from Science News Online, 15 April 2000.
Anasazi: “Site Holds Cannibalism Clues”
Article on evidence for Anasazi cannibalism found in human excrement remains unearthed in Anasazi sites in Colorado, from Science News Online, 9 September 2000.
Archaeology and Anthropology News, from Yahoo! News
Current news releases and related websites, updated daily.
Archaeology and Ethnology Program, National Park Service
Site map: http://www.cr.nps.gov/aad/sitemap.htm
Summary of recent research and excavations, including sections on the first Americans and on Kennewick Man.
Illustrations and descriptions of 33 Pleistocene animals, including 15 North American animals, from the American Museum of Natural History.
A Pleistocene Bestiary
Illustrations, maps, and brief descriptions, from Dr. Brian M. Fagan, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Pleistocene Animals of the Midwestern U.S.
List with eleven in-depth illustrated descriptions, from the Illinois State Museum.
North American Pleistocene Animals
Illustrations and descriptions of 14 Ice Age animals, from the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center, Canada.
Ice Age Mammals
Black-and white printouts of ten mammals, with descriptive information, for classroom use; from Enchanted Learning.
Picture Library, [British] Natural History Museum, London
Source of the illustrations of Pleistocene animals included in this essay.
REPORTS and WEBSITES cited in the essay (in order)
Animation of the flooding of the Bering Land Bridge, 21,000 B.P. to the present
From the Paleoenvironmental Atlas of Beringia (NOAA).
“Researchers study 10,000-year-old buried forest”
From Michigan Technological University (2000).
“Runaway Climate: Methane, Extreme Global Warming, and Massive Deep-Sea Changes”
From the Ocean Drilling Program (2003).
“Siberian Expedition: Wrangel Island”
On the hyperdisease hypothesis of the Pleistocene extinctions, from the American Museum of Natural History.
“Humans and Other Catastrophes”
Online exhibition from the American Museum of Natural History.