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(Yahoo)   Did a massive comet kill off the Clovis people? "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." SCIENCE FIGHT   (news.yahoo.com ) divider line 79
    More: Interesting, comets, Clovis culture, scientific skepticism, Younger Dryas, giant sloths, Rebecca Romijn, national laboratory, Shoemaker-Levy 9  
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3472 clicks; posted to Geek » on 04 Mar 2013 at 9:43 AM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-03-04 08:18:37 AM  
I thought it was a super volcano.  Now you're telling me it's a comet.  Next year it will be Ancient Aliens.
 
2013-03-04 08:21:49 AM  
Oh sure, a bunch of people end up dead and they immediately have to start pointing fingers at space rocks. I'm sure this one "matched the description."
 
2013-03-04 09:34:10 AM  

Sybarite: Oh sure, a bunch of people end up dead and they immediately have to start pointing fingers at space rocks. I'm sure this one "matched the description."


That's Space-ist!
 
2013-03-04 09:39:23 AM  
What in the fark.

The Clovis hunted themselves to death.  They didn't have agriculture, so once they killed their game, the culture collapsed.  The survivors eventually became the diverse Native American cultures.
 
2013-03-04 09:39:34 AM  
I saw an episode of NOVA that talked about a comet impact 13,000 years ago.  That was several years ago.  Good program.  Still not convinced beyond a preponderance of the evidence.  There's evidence to suggest it, but not enough to make you think it's a possible possibility.
Personally, I like a combination of over-hunting (Clovis points being so advanced) and thermohaline circulation shock due to a large glacial melt water lake.emptying into the North Atlantic.  You have climate change explaining the Younger Dryas cold period and a lack of flora and fauna due to the relatively sudden climate change.
 
2013-03-04 09:46:43 AM  
Extraordinary claims do not require extraordinary evidence. They require sufficient evidence just like any other claims.
 
2013-03-04 09:54:58 AM  

GAT_00: The Clovis hunted themselves to death. They didn't have agriculture, so once they killed their game, the culture collapsed.


Well, yes and no. Clearly, climate change had a hand in it as well. After all, it's not like the cave-dwellers of southern France and eastern Spain at the same point in time were out tilling the fields and domesticating livestock either.

Also, humans weren't the only North American species to go extinct or near-extinct 13,000 years ago. I don't think the giant sloths "hunted themselves to death," for example.
 
2013-03-04 09:56:33 AM  
Teach the controversy!!
 
2013-03-04 09:57:57 AM  
The problem is that tools aren't people.  It's like asking "what killed off the Bakelite people in the 20th century?"

The old "Clovis-Folsom" gap has been greatly narrowed/eliminated with calibrated C14 techniques (so there's not really evidence of a sudden drop off in material culture) and understanding local variations of Paleoindian tools has created more accurate regional sequences (Clovis and Folsom aren't the only tools kicking around back then, local traditions further fill many local breaks pretty nicely (most continue through the transition)).
 
2013-03-04 10:00:22 AM  

Sybarite: Oh sure, a bunch of people end up dead and they immediately have to start pointing fingers at space rocks. I'm sure this one "matched the description."


Well, to be honest, most of the asteroid fragments I've seen have been black.
 
2013-03-04 10:00:38 AM  
"Fascinating...."

/Hands up how many people first heard of the Clovis people from that episode of TOS?
 
2013-03-04 10:03:33 AM  
They said chill twice!
 
2013-03-04 10:05:20 AM  

Mr_Fabulous: GAT_00: The Clovis hunted themselves to death. They didn't have agriculture, so once they killed their game, the culture collapsed.

Well, yes and no. Clearly, climate change had a hand in it as well. After all, it's not like the cave-dwellers of southern France and eastern Spain at the same point in time were out tilling the fields and domesticating livestock either.

Also, humans weren't the only North American species to go extinct or near-extinct 13,000 years ago. I don't think the giant sloths "hunted themselves to death," for example.


But the Clovis were the only ones with a continent's worth of megafauna with no learned fear of humans, and all the evidence suggests they spread through North and South America very rapidly.  The megafauna disappeared shortly thereafter, and so did Clovis culture.

The conclusion is obvious.
 
2013-03-04 10:08:16 AM  

GAT_00: Mr_Fabulous: GAT_00: The Clovis hunted themselves to death. They didn't have agriculture, so once they killed their game, the culture collapsed.

Well, yes and no. Clearly, climate change had a hand in it as well. After all, it's not like the cave-dwellers of southern France and eastern Spain at the same point in time were out tilling the fields and domesticating livestock either.

Also, humans weren't the only North American species to go extinct or near-extinct 13,000 years ago. I don't think the giant sloths "hunted themselves to death," for example.

But the Clovis were the only ones with a continent's worth of megafauna with no learned fear of humans, and all the evidence suggests they spread through North and South America very rapidly.  The megafauna disappeared shortly thereafter, and so did Clovis culture.

The conclusion is obvious.


New climate was good for humans but not for megafauna?
 
2013-03-04 10:09:51 AM  
"I would run screaming away"

"West is Allen Whitt - who, in 2002, was fined by California and convicted for masquerading as a state-licensed geologist when he charged small-town officials fat fees for water studies. After completing probation in 2003 in San Bernardino County, he began work on the comet theory, legally adopting his new name in 2006 as he promoted it in a popular book"
 
2013-03-04 10:15:22 AM  

GAT_00: But the Clovis were the only ones with a continent's worth of megafauna with no learned fear of humans,


One of the interesting elements of that is that there isn't really much evidence that Paleo people hunted megafauna (with one exception) with any regularity.  There are very few mammoth bones with signs of being butchered, and only a couple mammoths that were pretty certainly killed by people (the rest can be argued were scavenged, and the one kill in the Basin of Mexico looks like it got caught a leg in the mud, then killed - the question is was that opportunistic or the result of them driving it into a bog?).

Contrast that with Bison antiquus - there's clear evidence of massive hunting of that species.  There are kill sites, butchering sites, and buffalo jumps across North America.  But there's no such comparable evidence for mammoth.

I personally *think* Paleo peoples played a role in it, but I can't really support that stance.

/Relatedl: I always imagine people sprinting from Canada to S. America killing and burning anything that moves (since that's not too far from how it's portrayed) ... just in time to arrive at Monte Verde.
 
2013-03-04 10:19:52 AM  

Tiberius Gracchus: buffalo jumps



Why am I imagining a buffalo in Evel Knievel-syle leathers jumping a Harley over a dozen teepees?
 
2013-03-04 10:23:27 AM  

give me doughnuts: Tiberius Gracchus: buffalo jumps


Why am I imagining a buffalo in Evel Knievel-syle leathers jumping a Harley over a dozen teepees?


They aren't really like that.  They're more like a herd of buffalo being stampeded off a cliff and then plunging to their gravity-assisted deaths.  But then again, the crashing part is similar to Evel Knievel crashing and burning after a failed jump.
 
2013-03-04 10:27:57 AM  

Tiberius Gracchus: buffalo jumps


Ladies and gentlemen... the Thirsty Whale welcomes... Insignia recording artists... Mr. Fabulous and the Buffalo Jumps!!

{roar}
 
2013-03-04 10:28:05 AM  

give me doughnuts: Tiberius Gracchus: buffalo jumps

Why am I imagining a buffalo in Evel Knievel-syle leathers jumping a Harley over a dozen teepees?


Glad that wasn't just me.
 
2013-03-04 10:30:15 AM  

eyeq360: give me doughnuts: Tiberius Gracchus: buffalo jumps


Why am I imagining a buffalo in Evel Knievel-syle leathers jumping a Harley over a dozen teepees?

They aren't really like that.  They're more like a herd of buffalo being stampeded off a cliff and then plunging to their gravity-assisted deaths.  But then again, the crashing part is similar to Evel Knievel crashing and burning after a failed jump.


I was actually going to tell him, "they're pretty much exactly like that ... just en masse and with all the aerodynamics you'd assume from a bison."
 
2013-03-04 10:37:35 AM  

Tiberius Gracchus: "what killed off the Bakelite people in the 20th century?"


The Irish.
 
2013-03-04 10:44:29 AM  
I don't know of any way to find evidence for this, but have often wondered if the megafauna extinction was due to disease or plague brought by humans and/or the bugs and beasts that travel with us.
 
2013-03-04 10:48:08 AM  
I thought the Clovis died out from native-on-native violence and a lack of knapped-stone-tipped assault weapon control.

/had to go there
//so sorry
 
2013-03-04 10:56:23 AM  

cgraves67: I thought the Clovis died out from native-on-native violence and a lack of knapped-stone-tipped assault weapon control.

/had to go there
//so sorry



It was those damned high-capacity spear points. Some of those psychos were using obsidian. How can anyone justify military grade knapping in civilian hands?!
 
2013-03-04 10:57:09 AM  

doglover: Tiberius Gracchus: "what killed off the Bakelite people in the 20th century?"

The Irish.


The Bakelites were evil and had to be purged.
 
2013-03-04 10:58:14 AM  

Tiberius Gracchus: It's like asking "what killed off the Bakelite people in the 20th century?"


They had a genetic predisposition to dropping injuries.
 
2013-03-04 10:59:39 AM  
I'm sorry.  It was me.  I killed the Clovis people.
 
2013-03-04 11:04:25 AM  

DjangoStonereaver: "Fascinating...."

/Hands up how many people first heard of the Clovis people from that episode of TOS?


upload.wikimedia.org
 
2013-03-04 11:04:37 AM  
l1.yimg.com

I'm always amazed at how close that meteor came to destroying the visitors center.
 
2013-03-04 11:16:18 AM  

John Nash: I don't know of any way to find evidence for this, but have often wondered if the megafauna extinction was due to disease or plague brought by humans and/or the bugs and beasts that travel with us.


Aren't there similar megafauna extinctions on islands in the Pacific that correlate with the arrival of humans?  Can they all be attributed to climate change or plague too?  It sounds like the major argument against humans hunting mammoths in NA is a lack of evidence of butchering of the mammoths.  Is it possible that they were hunted for sport, or they were killed off as a nuisance?
 
2013-03-04 11:17:51 AM  

Tiberius Gracchus: GAT_00: But the Clovis were the only ones with a continent's worth of megafauna with no learned fear of humans,

One of the interesting elements of that is that there isn't really much evidence that Paleo people hunted megafauna (with one exception) with any regularity.  There are very few mammoth bones with signs of being butchered, and only a couple mammoths that were pretty certainly killed by people (the rest can be argued were scavenged, and the one kill in the Basin of Mexico looks like it got caught a leg in the mud, then killed - the question is was that opportunistic or the result of them driving it into a bog?).

Contrast that with Bison antiquus - there's clear evidence of massive hunting of that species.  There are kill sites, butchering sites, and buffalo jumps across North America.  But there's no such comparable evidence for mammoth.

I personally *think* Paleo peoples played a role in it, but I can't really support that stance.

/Relatedl: I always imagine people sprinting from Canada to S. America killing and burning anything that moves (since that's not too far from how it's portrayed) ... just in time to arrive at Monte Verde.


According to this article (http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/SUROVELL/pdfs/QI%202008.pdf) there are perhaps 14 really reliable associations between Clovis tools and mammoths or mastodons. Whether that is a really significant number is open to interpretation, although the author seems to think that it is. I would say that the switch from Clovis to Folsom tools is excellent circumstantial evidence of intense hunting of mammoths. Folsom tools are much smaller and more delicate, but they were certainly sufficient for hunting bison. The use of much larger stone points during the Clovis period therefore seems to indicate that Clovis people were hunting game that was significantly larger.
 
2013-03-04 11:24:04 AM  
24.media.tumblr.com

You guys are slipping
 
2013-03-04 11:24:59 AM  

heinrich66: Extraordinary claims do not require extraordinary evidence. They require sufficient evidence just like any other claims.


Thank you. That stupid catchphrase always pisses me off.
 
2013-03-04 11:30:08 AM  
I thought the proto-Mormons killed them off?
 
2013-03-04 11:30:47 AM  
I read that as Cleophus people.
www.bluesbrotherscentral.com

// Hot like the hot tub....
 
2013-03-04 11:34:36 AM  

Tiberius Gracchus: /Relatedl: I always imagine people sprinting from Canada to S. America killing and burning anything that moves (since that's not too far from how it's portrayed) ... just in time to arrive at Monte Verde.



I thought Monte Verde pre-dates the Cletus Clovis people by 1000 years, or so?
 
2013-03-04 11:34:41 AM  
Mayor Quimby's brother was killed by a meteor?
 
2013-03-04 11:40:37 AM  
No.
 
2013-03-04 11:44:18 AM  

Tiberius Gracchus: The problem is that tools aren't people.  It's like asking "what killed off the Bakelite people in the 20th century?"



Thank you!  The "Clovis people" didn't get killed off by anything; they just stopped making that style of stone tool and started making different ones.

malaktaus:

According to this article (http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/SUROVELL/pdfs/QI%202008.pdf) there are perhaps 14 really reliable associations between Clovis tools and mammoths or mastodons. Whether that is a really significant number is open to interpretation, although the author seems to think that it is.


Remember that Clovis technology spans a couple thousand years, and as big as they were, 14 mammoths is not enough food to keep a population fed for that long.  If mammoth were a staple of their diet, I would expect far greater numbers of kill/butchery sites.

I am certain that the people who made Clovis points occasionally butchered mammoth, and I'm also willing to believe that they may sometimes have killed mammoths, rather than just scavenging carcasses of mammoth that died of other causes.  But I can't convince myself that mammoth was a regular or frequent part of their diet.  There were too many Pleistocene animals that would have been easier and safer to hunt.  Why go after an elephant when you can get more food for less work by hunting smaller game?   The energy return from killing a mammoth would be high, but the total handling time, plus the risk of injury, would make hunting them of far lower value, except in cases where the animal was already incapacitated (injured, mired in mud, etc.).

/$0.02
 
2013-03-04 11:45:28 AM  

give me doughnuts: Tiberius Gracchus: /Relatedl: I always imagine people sprinting from Canada to S. America killing and burning anything that moves (since that's not too far from how it's portrayed) ... just in time to arrive at Monte Verde.


I thought Monte Verde pre-dates the Cletus Clovis people by 1000 years, or so?


You're correct. (Maybe not quite 1000 years, but close to it.)
 
2013-03-04 12:10:04 PM  
I would expect the Clovis people to be better freshwater fishermen. If you're curious about something, there is a 3000 year old remain of a Caucasoid in the middle of South Korea. (source) It's not a surprising fact that a lot of Korean and Japanese words have proto-Dravidian origins.

/anthropology major
//mostly studied the Asian part of the world
 
2013-03-04 12:14:00 PM  

FloydA: Tiberius Gracchus: The problem is that tools aren't people.  It's like asking "what killed off the Bakelite people in the 20th century?"


Thank you!  The "Clovis people" didn't get killed off by anything; they just stopped making that style of stone tool and started making different ones.

malaktaus:

According to this article (http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/SUROVELL/pdfs/QI%202008.pdf) there are perhaps 14 really reliable associations between Clovis tools and mammoths or mastodons. Whether that is a really significant number is open to interpretation, although the author seems to think that it is.


Remember that Clovis technology spans a couple thousand years, and as big as they were, 14 mammoths is not enough food to keep a population fed for that long.  If mammoth were a staple of their diet, I would expect far greater numbers of kill/butchery sites.

I am certain that the people who made Clovis points occasionally butchered mammoth, and I'm also willing to believe that they may sometimes have killed mammoths, rather than just scavenging carcasses of mammoth that died of other causes.  But I can't convince myself that mammoth was a regular or frequent part of their diet.  There were too many Pleistocene animals that would have been easier and safer to hunt.  Why go after an elephant when you can get more food for less work by hunting smaller game?   The energy return from killing a mammoth would be high, but the total handling time, plus the risk of injury, would make hunting them of far lower value, except in cases where the animal was already incapacitated (injured, mired in mud, etc.).

/$0.02


How much meat is on a mammoth anyways?  If you are feeding a relatively small group of people, it might just be way more meat than you would ever need, and since this is before refrigeration, anything you can't eat in a couple days goes to waste right?  Like you said, it would certainly be harder to bring down a mammoth than other smaller game, and if you can't make use of all the meat anyways, why go through the extra effort/risk.

/If The Oregon Trail taught me anything, it is that just because you can kill a bear, it doesn't mean it is better than a nice family-sized deer.
//That, and always ford the rivers
 
2013-03-04 12:20:59 PM  
my_cats_breath_smells_like_cat_food:

How much meat is on a mammoth anyways?  If you are feeding a relatively small group of people, it might just be way more meat than you would ever need, and since this is before refrigeration, anything you can't eat in a couple days goes to waste right?  Like you said, it would certainly be harder to bring down a mammoth than other smaller game, and if you can't make use of all the meat anyways, why go through the extra effort/risk.


You could smoke it or dry it to preserve it for longer, but then you have to carry it.  You have to move away from the carcass pretty soon, because the smell is going to attract scavengers, including big cats and wolves.  You might have some dogs as pack animals, but otherwise, you've got to carry it yourself.


/If The Oregon Trail taught me anything, it is that just because you can kill a bear, it doesn't mean it is better than a nice family-sized deer.
//That, and always ford the rivers


Also dysentery.
 
2013-03-04 12:23:56 PM  

FloydA: Also dysentery.


putdowntheurinalcake.com
 
2013-03-04 12:29:59 PM  

FloydA: my_cats_breath_smells_like_cat_food:

How much meat is on a mammoth anyways?  If you are feeding a relatively small group of people, it might just be way more meat than you would ever need, and since this is before refrigeration, anything you can't eat in a couple days goes to waste right?  Like you said, it would certainly be harder to bring down a mammoth than other smaller game, and if you can't make use of all the meat anyways, why go through the extra effort/risk.


You could smoke it or dry it to preserve it for longer, but then you have to carry it.  You have to move away from the carcass pretty soon, because the smell is going to attract scavengers, including big cats and wolves.  You might have some dogs as pack animals, but otherwise, you've got to carry it yourself.


/If The Oregon Trail taught me anything, it is that just because you can kill a bear, it doesn't mean it is better than a nice family-sized deer.
//That, and always ford the rivers

Also dysentery.


When did people start smoking/drying meat to preserve it?  I've always been a little curious about that...not enough to actually look it up, but it seems like it would have been extremely useful knowledge.

I guess it might be one of those things that we can't really pin down...at some point some guy left some meat sitting out in the desert sun for a few days, and it never started smelling like death, so he kept on eating it.  But it seems like there are some knowledgeable folks in this thread, so I thought I would ask.
 
2013-03-04 12:32:33 PM  

my_cats_breath_smells_like_cat_food: FloydA: Tiberius Gracchus: The problem is that tools aren't people.  It's like asking "what killed off the Bakelite people in the 20th century?"


Thank you!  The "Clovis people" didn't get killed off by anything; they just stopped making that style of stone tool and started making different ones.

malaktaus:

According to this article (http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/SUROVELL/pdfs/QI%202008.pdf) there are perhaps 14 really reliable associations between Clovis tools and mammoths or mastodons. Whether that is a really significant number is open to interpretation, although the author seems to think that it is.


Remember that Clovis technology spans a couple thousand years, and as big as they were, 14 mammoths is not enough food to keep a population fed for that long.  If mammoth were a staple of their diet, I would expect far greater numbers of kill/butchery sites.

I am certain that the people who made Clovis points occasionally butchered mammoth, and I'm also willing to believe that they may sometimes have killed mammoths, rather than just scavenging carcasses of mammoth that died of other causes.  But I can't convince myself that mammoth was a regular or frequent part of their diet.  There were too many Pleistocene animals that would have been easier and safer to hunt.  Why go after an elephant when you can get more food for less work by hunting smaller game?   The energy return from killing a mammoth would be high, but the total handling time, plus the risk of injury, would make hunting them of far lower value, except in cases where the animal was already incapacitated (injured, mired in mud, etc.).

/$0.02

How much meat is on a mammoth anyways?  If you are feeding a relatively small group of people, it might just be way more meat than you would ever need, and since this is before refrigeration, anything you can't eat in a couple days goes to waste right?  Like you said, it would certainly be harder to bring down a mammoth than other smaller game, and if you can't make use of all the meat anyways, why go through the extra effort/risk.

/If The Oregon Trail taught me anything, it is that just because you can kill a bear, it doesn't mean it is better than a nice family-sized deer.
//That, and always ford the rivers


Something the Native Americans were good at was drying meat strips for later use. It's called jerky today. A mammoth would definitely provide more meat than a tribe could eat before it went bad, but if it were just before winter, they could dry it and eat it all winter.

If I had to guess their hunting strategy, they probably stuck to small, easy to kill game for most of the year, but they'd knock down a few mammoth in the late fall and preserve them for the long hunger of winter.
 
2013-03-04 12:36:24 PM  

GAT_00: What in the fark.

The Clovis hunted themselves to death.  They didn't have agriculture, so once they killed their game, the culture collapsed.  The survivors eventually became the diverse Native American cultures.


Exactly what I came in here to say. I thought it was common knowledge.
 
2013-03-04 12:38:05 PM  

FloydA: give me doughnuts: Tiberius Gracchus: /Relatedl: I always imagine people sprinting from Canada to S. America killing and burning anything that moves (since that's not too far from how it's portrayed) ... just in time to arrive at Monte Verde.


I thought Monte Verde pre-dates the Cletus Clovis people by 1000 years, or so?

You're correct. (Maybe not quite 1000 years, but close to it.)


I'm not a member of the Clovis Police - so that 1000 years difference is something that I tend to forget about/don't give any importance (I live within a half hour of two pre-clovis sites: Hebior and Schaeffer).  Mentally/imagewise - I just love picturing people sprinting to make it from S. Wisconsin to Monte Verde as if on a schedule.

FloydA: malaktaus:

According to this article (http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/SUROVELL/pdfs/QI%202008.pdf) there are perhaps 14 really reliable associations between Clovis tools and mammoths or mastodons. Whether that is a really significant number is open to interpretation, although the author seems to think that it is.


Remember that Clovis technology spans a couple thousand years, and as big as they were, 14 mammoths is not enough food to keep a population fed for that long.  If mammoth were a staple of their diet, I would expect far greater numbers of kill/butchery sites.


The other issues is what "association" means. The article doesn't discuss whether the association was strongly indicative of killing in the 14 NA cases (which is odd, since they made the case of one European site being a solid kill because of associated weapons - we'll leave the form implying function debate aside for the moment Floyd ;) Were the tools associated with skinning?  Bone processing?  Were the tools just "in the general vicinity? - don't laugh, it happens and can be a real headache, do you then associate the or not?

So at all these sites, we don't know whether they even did kill it to butcher it? Even if it was a kill, was it old/wounded/trapped and the chance too good to pass up?  Or was it part of a pattern of hunting?  Also, is scavenging significant caloric intake?  If so is it signifying that mammoth is a regular part of the diet and we can infer kills from the opportunistic scavenging?  The more work done on paleo diet indicates more and more the diversity of their diet, small mammals like rabbits, lots of wild vegetation, etc.

If you have time Malaktaus, look up the Santa Isabel Ixtapan mammoth (if you have access to JSTOR/American Antiquity there's a writeup called "Associaton of Artifacts with Mammoth in the Valley of Mexico").  It's one of the best (if not the best) examples of a mammoth kill site.  You can easily reconstruct both the death and then butchering of the animal - but still has all the questions of mammoth exploitation as a whole.  Was this opportunistic or a part of a systematic hunting routine?  (Also note how much more evidence is found here than in many of the "artifacts associated with" cases - THAT is a kill site)
 
2013-03-04 12:41:53 PM  

MyKingdomForYourHorse: FloydA: Also dysentery.

[putdowntheurinalcake.com image 500x289]


d3gqasl9vmjfd8.cloudfront.net
 
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