Mammoths and Humans Meet

So why did mammoths become extinct when they had lived beside humans for many millenia before the end of the Pleistocene? The answer lies in technology. Though primitive hunting groups did exist alongside mammoths and other large prey, initially these people lacked the hunting techniques and technologies to bring down large animals safely.

In North America, recent archaeological evidence seems to suppot the idea that human beings had arrived on the continent well before the "Clovis" people, who are usually accredited with the destructive overhunting of the mammoths. These Clovis paleoindians used long fluted spearpoints which were larger and sharper than any other primitve tools which had been previously found on the North American continent. The Clovis people supposedly entered North America along the eastern side of the Rocky mountains as the glaciers began to recede around 12 000 years ago. They spread eastwards and southwards through the continent, and large mammal extinctions seems to follow their progress rather closely in time.

Though the evidence seems to point to the Clovis Indians as the culprits in mammoth extinctions, it may just have been that the mammoths were not susceptible to extinction pressure before the glacial age began to draw to a close and climate change placed the animals under pressure. In this case the effects of the inovations in hunting techniques and technologies that the Clovis people brought to North America was grossly exaggerated by the natural climate fueled decline of the mammoths.

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