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Stratum plus. 2013. №1

R. V. Croitor (Kishinev, Moldova)

Human Activity as a Possible Factor in the Extinction of Large Mammals in the Late Pleistocene North Eurasia

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Pages: 113-132

The article proposes an overview of various points of view on extinction of Late Pleistocene megafauna, discusses the ecological potential of humans as predators, as well as the most probable causes of extinction of megafauna from Northern Eurasia. A special discussion is dedicated to the ecological aspect of extinction of the so-called cave predators and Neanderthals, and the possible implication of the anatomically modern humans. Due to the symbiotic relationship with dog, the anatomically modern humans reinforced their ecological role as ubiquitous collective daytime predator and attained the same ecological possibilities as true specialized carnivores. Nonetheless, the most probable and main factor that provoked extinction of megafauna was the gradual decrease of primary productivity of Late Pleistocene ecosystems caused by climate degradation during the late glacial maximum in combination with competitive exclusion by anatomically modern humans. The overkill hypothesis is not supported by this study. Apparently, Homo sapiens who entered the southern part of North America did not represent an unfamiliar type of predator for American megafauna. Late Pleistocene fauna of North America contained a broad variety of predators, including several large-sized collective predators, therefore the American megafauna was not “naïve”. The absence of large specialized terrestrial scavengers is the only peculiarity of North American fauna that possibly suggests an initial comparatively low primary production of ecosystems and for this reason a higher vulnerability of megafauna.

Keywords: North Eurasia, Late Pleistocene, megafauna, extinction, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo sapiens

Information about author:

Roman Croitor
(Kishinev, Moldova). Doctor of Biology. Institute of a Cultural Heritage, Academy of Sciences of Moldova, Stefan Cel Mare Bd., 1, Kishinev, MD-2001, Moldova 
E-mail: [email protected]

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