April 17, 2006


Mammoth maketh the man (Mark Henderson, The Times, April 17th, 2006)

Regular meals of mammoth meat helped some early human tribes to expand more quickly than their largely vegetarian contemporaries, according to a genetic study by British scientists.

Human populations in East Asia about 30,000 years ago developed at dramatically different rates, following a pattern that appears to reflect the availability of mammoths and other large game.

In the part of the region covering what is now northern China, Mongolia and southern Siberia, vast plains teemed with large, now extinct mammals such as mammoths, mastodons and woolly rhinoceroses and the number of early human beings grew appreciably between 34,000 and 20,000 years ago.

Further south, where the terrain was covered in thick forest, the population expansion began much later — between 18,000 and 12,000 years ago. [...]

There is little direct evidence to connect mammoth-hunting to this trend, but Dr Tyler-Smith said that greater access to large game species was the explanation that made most sense. [...]

The extinction of mammoths and many other large mammals has also been persuasively linked to the arrival of humans on different continents: the decline of the creatures in North America, for example, correlates closely with the date at which a human presence there has been confirmed.

Scientists think it likely that Stone Age man hunted mammoths by ambushing them and attacking them with spears at close range. As the vast animals had no other natural predators they would have been easy prey. It is also possible that hunters drove them into traps or off cliffs.

Just so, although no doubt you are wondering how all those buffalo and caribou outwitted traditional aboriginal hunters so effectively. We here at Brothersjudd are delighted to tell you and thus fill in another mysterious gap in the epic story of Evolution: They didn’t have to worry about the lure of all those scheming blondes.

Posted by Peter Burnet at April 17, 2006 7:07 AM

As the vast animals had no other natural predators they would have been easy prey.

This phenomenon also applies to human cultures that experience several generations of unquestioned security. They become fat, lazy, slow, and unaware of hungrier cultures, predators.

As a businessman, I hated competition in the short term but greatly valued it in the long term. Strong competition made us more innovative and efficient.

Posted by: TGN at April 17, 2006 11:22 AM

The reeason they had no other natural predators is that they were difficult to kill. Anyone who thinks killing a large animal with a spear at short range is easy is dangerously naive.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 17, 2006 1:51 PM

GEN 9:1 And God blessed Noe and his sons. And He said to them: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth.

GEN 9:2 And let the fear and dread of you be upon all the beasts of the earth, and upon all the fowls of the air, and all that move upon the earth: all the fishes of the sea are delivered into your hand.

GEN 9:3 And every thing that moveth and liveth shall be meat or you: even as the green herbs have I delivered them all to you.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 17, 2006 2:53 PM