More than 10,000 years ago spectacularly large mammals roamed the pampas and jungles of South America. This book tells the story of these great beasts during and just after the Pleistocene, the geological epoch marked by the great ice ages. Megafauna describes the history and way of life of these animals, their comings and goings, and what befell them at the beginning of the modern era and the arrival of humans. It places these giants within the context of the other mammals then alive, describing their paleobiology—how they walked; how much they weighed; their diets, behavior, biomechanics; and the interactions among them and with their environment. It also tells the stories of the scientists who contributed to our discovery and knowledge of these transcendent creatures and the environment they inhabited. The episode known as the Great American Biotic Interchange, perhaps the most important of all natural history "experiments," is also an important theme of the book, tracing the biotic events of both North and South America that led to the fauna and the ecosystems discussed in this book.
The fascinating lives and puzzling demise of some of the largest animals on earth. Until a few thousand years ago, creatures that could have been from a sci-fi thriller—including gorilla-sized lemurs, 500-pound birds, and crocodiles that weighed a ton or more—roamed the earth. These great beasts, or “megafauna,” lived on every habitable continent and on many islands. With a handful of exceptions, all are now gone. What caused the disappearance of these prehistoric behemoths? No one event can be pinpointed as a specific cause, but several factors may have played a role. Paleomammalogist Ross D. E. MacPhee explores them all, examining the leading extinction theories, weighing the evidence, and presenting his own conclusions. He shows how theories of human overhunting and catastrophic climate change fail to account for critical features of these extinctions, and how new thinking is needed to elucidate these mysterious losses. Along the way, we learn how time is determined in earth history; how DNA is used to explain the genomics and phylogenetic history of megafauna—and how synthetic biology and genetic engineering may be able to reintroduce these giants of the past. Until then, gorgeous four-color illustrations by Peter Schouten re-create these megabeasts here in vivid detail.
The volume contains summaries of facts, theories, and unsolved problems pertaining to the unexplained extinction of dozens of genera of mostly large terrestrial mammals, which occurred ca. 13,000 calendar years ago in North America and about 1,000 years later in South America. Another equally mysterious wave of extinctions affected large Caribbean islands around 5,000 years ago. The coupling of these extinctions with the earliest appearance of human beings has led to the suggestion that foraging humans are to blame, although major climatic shifts were also taking place in the Americas during some of the extinctions. The last published volume with similar (but not identical) themes -- Extinctions in Near Time -- appeared in 1999; since then a great deal of innovative, exciting new research has been done but has not yet been compiled and summarized. Different chapters in this volume provide in-depth resumés of the chronology of the extinctions in North and South America, the possible insights into animal ecology provided by studies of stable isotopes and anatomical/physiological characteristics such as growth increments in mammoth and mastodont tusks, the clues from taphonomic research about large-mammal biology, the applications of dating methods to the extinctions debate, and archeological controversies concerning human hunting of large mammals.
Extinctions have always occurred and always will, so what is so surprising about the megafauna extinctions? They were caused by humans and were the first of many extinctions that eventually led to the extinction of the Moa, Steller's Sea Cow, the Dodo, Great Auk and countless other species great and small, all attributed to human agency. Therefore, the megafauna were humans’ first great impact on the planet. There is now an increasing realization that the 'blitzkrieg' view of these extinctions may have been wrong. A growing body of evidence and long-term field work is beginning to show that at least Australia's megafauna did not succumb to human agency, not because humans probably did not hunt the odd animal but because the an infinitely more logical reason lies in the climatic conditions of the Quaternary Ice Ages and the affect they had on continental geography, environment, climate and, most importantly, the biogeography of the megafauna. This book presents the evidence of this theory, demonstrating the biogeographic approach to Australia’s megafauna extinction. Written clearly to benefit a diverse level of readers, from those with a passing interest to professionals in the field. Examines future climate change and its effects on the planet by looking at examples buried in the past Presents new evidence from extensive field research
The author's overkill hypothesis is presented in this study that explains the mysterious megafauna extinctions in North and South America around the time humans arrived at the end of the last great ice age.
Introduces the many animal species that became extinct over the past five centuries as the result of European expansion into various parts of the world, including the great auk, Carolina parakeet, thylacine, and passenger pigeon.
This latest collection from renowned science fiction author Michael Swanwick contains 15 short-short stories on dinosaur themes. These dinosaurs are steely bureaucrats, genetically engineered Christmas toys, and beloved killer pets, clashing with immoral scientists, neighbourhood bullies, and society ladies with dangerous, sometimes moving, and wickedly funny consequences.
Kellie Wells is a writer of startling imagination whose "phantasmal stories," Booklist says, "shimmer with a dreamlike vibrancy." God, the Moon, and Other Megafauna, Wells's second collection of short stories and winner of the Richard Sullivan Prize in Short Fiction, is populated with the world’s castoffs, cranks, and inveterate oddballs, the deeply aggrieved, the ontologically challenged, the misunderstood mopes that haunt the shadowy wings of the world’s main stage. Here you will find a teacup-sized aerialist who tries to ingest the world’s considerable suffering; a lonely god growing ever lonelier as the Afterlife swells with monkeys and other improbable occupants; a father fluent in the language of the Dead who has difficulty communicating with his living son; and Death himself, a moony adolescent with a tender heart and a lack of ambition. God-haunted and apocalyptic, comic and formally inventive, these stories give lyrical voice to the indomitability of the everyday underdog, and they will continue to resonate long after the last word has been read.
In 2011, retired doctor Hal Young discovered perfectly preserved prehistoric stone sculptures that revealed a pictorial history of the Pleistocene epoch in Albemarle County, Virginia. With 188 color photos, 3 illustrations, 1 map, and index, Stone Revelations of the Last Ice Age documents a world many thought never existed, displaying sculptures of over 35 ice age species and at least 10 unprecedented examples of human faces. The book features ancient artwork that is an astonishing testimony to the earliest human occupation of North America. These ancient artifacts offer insight to many unsolved mysteries of the last ice age, the First People, and extinct megafauna. It's the only book of its kind on the market to include incredible new findings on the Pleistocene epoch. Stone Revelations is a must read for anyone interested in archaeology and North American prehistory.
Step back to a time when giant goannas and marsupial lions stalked the Australian bush. Imagine herds of two-tonne Diprotodon roaming the plains, and flocks of flightless ducks bigger than emus striding across the shallow inland sea.
Four respected paleontologists present a history of the development of modern mammals from the unique evolutionary environment of Australia and New Guinea. The authors describe both what is known about prehistoric Australian mammals and what can be reconstructed from the fossil evidence about their appearance and behaviors.
A field guide to 60 dinosaurs and prehistoric animals that once lived in what is now North America. Featuring stunning illustrations of each animal by world-famous artist Sergey Krosovskiy and based on the latest paleontogical research, this book provides information about the where and when the animals lived, what they ate, and more.
The landscapes of Madagascar have long delighted zoologists, who have discovered, in and among the island’s baobab trees and thickets, a dizzying array of animals, including something approaching one hundred species of lemur. Madagascar’s mammal fauna, for example, is far more diverse, and more endemic, than early explorers and naturalists ever dreamed of. But in the past 2,500 or so years—a period associated with natural climatic shifts and ecological change, as well as partially coinciding with the arrival of the island’s first human settlers—a considerable proportion of Madagascar’s forests have disappeared; and in the wake of this loss, a number of species unique to Madagascar have vanished forever into extinction. In Extinct Madagascar, noted scientists Steven M. Goodman and William L. Jungers explore the recent past of these land animal extinctions. Beginning with an introduction to the geologic and ecological history of Madagascar that provides context for the evolution, diversification, and, in some cases, rapid decline of the Malagasy fauna, Goodman and Jungers then seek to recapture these extinct mammals in their environs. Aided in their quest by artist Velizar Simeonovski’s beautiful and haunting digital paintings—images of both individual species and ecosystem assemblages reproduced here in full color—Goodman and Jungers reconstruct the lives of these lost animals and trace their relationships to those still living. Published in conjunction with an exhibition of Simeonovski’s artwork set to open at the Field Museum, Chicago, in the fall of 2014, Goodman and Jungers’s awe-inspiring book will serve not only as a sobering reminder of the very real threat of extinction, but also as a stunning tribute to Madagascar’s biodiversity and a catalyst for further research and conservation.
A new vision is sweeping through ecological science: The dense web of dependencies that makes up an ecosystem has gained an added dimension-the dimension of time. Every field, forest, and park is full of living organisms adapted for relationships with creatures that are now extinct. In a vivid narrative, Connie Barlow shows how the idea of "missing partners" in nature evolved from isolated, curious examples into an idea that is transforming how ecologists understand the entire flora and fauna of the Americas. This fascinating book will enrich the experience of any amateur naturalist, as well as teach us that the ripples of biodiversity loss around us are just the leading edge of what may well become perilous cascades of extinction.
A study of what would happen to Earth if the human presence was removed examines our legacy for the planet, from the objects that would vanish without human intervention to those that would become long-lasting remnants of humankind.
Taking advantage of new technological advances in Quaternary geology and geomorphology, this volume showcases new developments in glacial geology. Honoring the legacy of Frank Leverett and F.B. Taylor's 1915 USGS monograph of the region, this book includes 12 chapters that cover diverse topics ranging from hydrogeology, near-surface geophysics, geotectonics, and vertebrate paleontology to glacial geomorphology and glacial history. Several papers make use of detailed but nuanced shaded relief maps of digital elevation models of LiDAR data; these advances are brought into historical perspective by visiting the history of geologic mapping of Michigan. Looking forward, interpretations of the shaded relief maps evoke novel processes, such as regional evolution of subglacial and supraglacial drainage systems of receding glacial margins. The volume also includes assessment of chronological issues in light of greater accuracy and precision of radiocarbon dating of plant fossils using accelerator mass spectrometry versus older techniques.
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
Extinctions have always occurred and always will, so what is so surprising about the megafauna extinctions? They were caused by humans and were the first of many extinctions that eventually led to the extinction of the Moa, Steller's Sea Cow, the Dodo, Great Auk and countless other species great and small, all attributed to human agency. Therefore, the megafauna were humans’ first great impact on the planet. There is now an increasing realization that the 'blitzkrieg' view of these extinctions may have been wrong. A growing body of evidence and long-term field work is beginning to show that at least Australia's megafauna did not succumb to human agency, not because humans probably did not hunt the odd animal but because the an infinitely more logical reason lies in the climatic conditions of the Quaternary Ice Ages and the affect they had on continental geography, environment, climate and, most importantly, the biogeography of the megafauna. This book presents the evidence of this theory, demonstrating the biogeographic approach to Australia’s megafauna extinction. Written clearly to benefit a diverse level of readers, from those with a passing interest to professionals in the field. Examines future climate change and its effects on the planet by looking at examples buried in the past Presents new evidence from extensive field research

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