Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Spatially explicit analysis sheds new light on the Pleistocene megafaunal extinction in North America

  • Meaghan M. Emery-Wetherell (a1), Brianna K. McHorse (a2) and Edward Byrd Davis (a3)
Abstract
Abstract

The late Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions may have been the first extinctions directly related to human activity, but in North America the close temporal proximity of human arrival and the Younger Dryas climate event has hindered efforts to identify the ultimate extinction cause. Previous work evaluating the roles of climate change and human activity in the North American megafaunal extinction has been stymied by a reliance on geographic binning, yielding contradictory results among researchers. We used a fine-scale geospatial approach in combination with 95 megafaunal last-appearance and 75 human first-appearance radiocarbon dates to evaluate the North American megafaunal extinction. We used kriging to create interpolated first- and last-appearance surfaces from calibrated radiocarbon dates in combination with their geographic autocorrelation. We found substantial evidence for overlap between megafaunal and human populations in many but not all areas, in some cases exceeding 3000 years of predicted overlap. We also found that overlap was highly regional: megafauna had last appearances in Alaska before humans first appeared, but did not have last appearances in the Great Lakes region until several thousand years after the first recorded human appearances. Overlap in the Great Lakes region exceeds uncertainty in radiocarbon measurements or methodological uncertainty and would be even greater with sampling-derived confidence intervals. The kriged maps of last megafaunal occurrence are consistent with climate as a primary driver in some areas, but we cannot eliminate human influence from all regions. The late Pleistocene megafaunal extinction was highly variable in timing and duration of human overlap across the continent, and future analyses should take these regional trends into account.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Spatially explicit analysis sheds new light on the Pleistocene megafaunal extinction in North America
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Spatially explicit analysis sheds new light on the Pleistocene megafaunal extinction in North America
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Spatially explicit analysis sheds new light on the Pleistocene megafaunal extinction in North America
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Paleobiology
  • ISSN: 0094-8373
  • EISSN: 1938-5331
  • URL: /core/journals/paleobiology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 85
Total number of PDF views: 352 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1449 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 29th August 2017 - 17th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.