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Twilight of the Mammoths:: Ice Age Extinctions and the Rewilding of America (Organisms and Environments) Paperback – May 8, 2007
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Paul Martin is best known for his "Overkill Hypothesis." The great beasts of Ice Age America went extinct, he maintains, not because of climate change but because of us - specifically, the first mammals to arrive on this continent, across the Bering Land Bridge, equipped with weapons that could kill at a distance. This scientific memoir does a splendid job of helping the reader step by step engage with that issue and to acquire a deep sense of the historical twists and turns of its reception. Along the way, we are treated to sensory rich descriptions and storytelling of events and experiences that shaped Martin's outlook. The author is not only a scientist but one of the world's great naturalists - feeling and tasting his way through the landscape. And he is an elegant and sensitive writer:
"It will come as no surprise," Martin writes, "that I define 'the last entire earth' differently than did Thoreau. Prehistorians find that any given land begins to lose its wildness not when the first Europeans arrive, but when the very first humans do. In the Americas true wilderness was more than 10,000 years gone by the time Columbus reached our shores.Read more ›
The true "natural" environment of the United States, in Martin's view, existed 13,000 years ago before man got here and that it has been out of balance since. Martin comes down strong on the side that human beings were responsible for the extinction of many large mammals in the Americas about 13,000 years ago and his argument is persuasive. He also makes a strong case that human beings have lived in the Americas for little more than 13,000 years. This is a hot-button issue among archaeologists, but Martin's point is: if the Indians were here more than 13,000 years ago where are the signs of their presence? Not many, if any, have been found in a hundred years of looking.
His most interesting point and new to me was his proposals to re-people (wrong word, maybe "re-animate"?) the New World with representatives of the large mammals that became extinct. For example, why is that our government is trying to kill off the burros and wild horses in national parks? Horses originated in the Americas; they became extinct about 13,000 years ago. Why not allow them to reestablish themselves as a native species?
And then he really gets off on a speculative tangent, "rewilding America." Camels and Llamas lived in the United States until 13,000 thousand years ago; why not reintroduce them as native, wild species. Similarly rhinocerous, elephant, lion, tiger and other mammal species.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book detailing the "Overkill" theory that has been championed by Martin for years now. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Matthew Champlin
THIS BOOK AND THE RESEARCH BEHIND IT ARE DATED. NOVA SPENT SOME MONE FIGURING THIS OUT AND THE HUMANS DIDNT EAT THEM ALL LIKE PAUL CLAIMS. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Michael Crosier
I have a wall of book shelves that these book sit on so I reread all i havePublished 7 months ago by Goldie
Excellent book which strips out political correctness and cultural sensitivity to leave only hard evidence to guide our interpretation of what drove the extinctions of America's... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kindle Customer
This was a while back and was part of a gift. The receiver had asked specifically for this book.Published 19 months ago by Donna
This is the classic text promoting the theory that hunting by early human beings was responsible for the extinction of large animals in North and South America, Australia, Oceanic... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Paul R. Fleischman M.D. author of Wonder: When and Why the World Appears Radiant.
I really enjoyed this scholarly and well-argued book. The author does an excellent job of laying out the evidence for human causes of the extinctions of the great American mega... Read morePublished on May 25, 2013 by Book Fanatic
TOTALLY UNREALISTIC VERSION OF HOW THE LARGE ANIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA BECAME EXTINCT....... HUMANS DID NOT EAT ALL THE SABRE TOOTH CATS NOR THE WOOLLEY MAMMOTHS......Published on November 20, 2012 by R. VANARSDALL