Pleistocene overkill hypothesis (1960s) Biology

The idea that the American mastodon was killed off by hunting was first proposed by in 1799, and , an early evolutionist, thought that humans exterminated the extinct ice age mammals. By 1860, wondered whether anything humans could have caused that mass extinction. Therefore, when first proposed his Overkill Hypothesis in 1966, it was by no means novel, but he started the modern debate and the controversy quickly focused on North America, beginning about 15 kya.

survived the Pleistocene, human hunting does not confer overkill, Animals

With that separation from physical reality, speculation frenzies have been major aspects of how stock markets operate. The first bout of market insanity was the . The slave-trade frenzy that fortune was less than a century later and was a stock speculation issue. The , in which greed and fear prevailed. The USA has devolved into the serial bubble economy as its empire has declined, and until the crises of the early 21st century, the USA’s previous market mania was in the 1920s. Back then, companies with nothing more than “” behind them sold stock to the public. It was essentially no different from the that . Those orgies of greed were usually associated with some new product, market, or a financial sleight of hand to finance them. The 1920s bubble was sandwiched between World War I and its sequel, and a . , and there was even a , backed by leading industrialists and politicians who tried to entice into becoming their front man.


Paul Martin's "overkill hypothesis" and the climatic ..

Usual knee-jerk reactions by the folks who don't like the overkill hypothesis.

There are some inconsistencies between the current available data and the prehistoric overkill hypothesis. For instance, there are ambiguities around the timing of sudden extinctions of . Biologists note that comparable extinctions have not occurred in and or , where the fauna evolved with hominids. Post-glacial megafaunal extinctions in Africa have been spaced over a longer interval.


Martin, proposed the overkill hypothesis in the 1960s

I earlier compared people from different epochs. That stone tool Tesla what his/her invention would lead to a half-million years later, and members of the founding group could not have comprehended . Imagine a hunter-gatherer of 10 kya being dropped into Rome in 100 CE or London in 1500 CE. History has some relevant examples. When , about the last of his people, came out of hiding in his dying world and strode into civilization, it caused a sensation. He soon died of tuberculosis, but his encounters with civilization were recorded. He attended an opera, and the popular account portrayed his rapport with the diva, but Ishi actually stared in amazement at the , as he had never before seen so many people in one place. When he saw an airplane in flight, he laughed in amazement. Imagine a hunter-gatherer of 10 kya being dropped into imperial Rome. That hunter-gatherer had probably seen dogs, but horses, cows, sheep, and the like would have been astounding, and watching a horse or ox pull a cart would have been stunning. Crops would have been an amazing sight. Imagine that hunter-gatherer at the . The building and crowd alone would have boggled his mind, even if the festivities might have been horrifically familiar. Metals and glass would have seemed magical. Writing had not yet been invented in that hunter-gatherer’s world, so even the concept would have been difficult. Imagine him trying to learn math. There were no more singing and dancing religious rituals, and no wide-open spaces to hunt a meal. Imagine that hunter-gatherer visiting a Roman bath. Hot water alone would have been surreal, while the cavorting might have been delightful. What would his reaction have been to Rome’s markets? Rome was also loud and could be hellish, so the hunter-gatherer might have longed to flee to the countryside before long, but the countryside would have little resembled the one he knew. He obviously would not have understood anything that anybody said, but they were also all members of , so he would have seen many behaviors and traits that he eventually understood. But how long would his shock have lasted? Could he have really ever adapted to Roman society (if he did not quickly end up on the arena’s stage as a novelty)? Another surprise for that hunter-gatherer would be seeing people interact who did not know each other. People were interacting with members and not trying to kill them on sight, which became standard behavior in most hunter-gatherer societies that battled over territory (their food supply). Civilized life was all made possible by the local and stable energy source that agriculture provided, which led to an epoch that changed very little until the next energy source was tapped: the hydrocarbon energy that powered the Industrial Revolution. The next chapter will survey the developments that led to that momentous event. It is the only Epochal Event with historical documentation that showed how it developed, which is easier to reconstruct than examining stones and bones.