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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

A University of Cambrdge Study agrees with the theory postulating that a combination of human hunters and climate change is responsible for the extinction of the mega-fauna that roamed the earth over the past 100,000 years..........Other researchers also add human and domestic dog pathogens as lethal agents in the demise of the saber tooth tigers, dire wolves, mastadons and scores of other giant animals that previously ruled the planet..........Is our man-made induced climate change, swelling populations and destruction of habitat dooming our existing fauna to the same fate?

Demise of Early Large Animals Caused by Both Humans and Climate Change

ScienceDaily  — Research provides new insights about what caused the extinction of many of the world's big animals over the last 100,000 years.

Past waves of extinctions which removed some of the world's largest animals were causedby both people and climate change, according to new research from the University of Cambridge. Their findings were reported March 5, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dire Wolf

By examining extinctions during the late Quaternary period (from 700,000 year ago until present day), but primarily focusing on the last 100,000 years, scientists have been able to assess the relative importance of different factors in causing the extinctions of many of the world's terrestrial megafauna, animals 44 kg or larger. These extinctions included mammoths in North America and Eurasia as well as mastodons and giant sloths in the Americas, the woolly rhino in Europe, giant kangaroos and wombats in Australia, and the moas (giant flightless birds) in New Zealand.

Saber-Tooth Tiger

The researchers used data from an Antarctic ice core, which gives one of the longest running records of changes in Earth's climate, covering the last several hundred thousand years. They also compiled information on the arrival of modern humans from Africa on five different landmasses (North America, South America, most of Eurasia, Australia and New Zealand).

By conducting a statistical analysis using both the climatic information and the timing of arrival of modern humans, they were able to determine whether the pattern of extinctions across landmasses was best explained by climate change, the arrival of modern humans, or both. They concluded that it was a combination of both the arrival of man (probably through hunting or habitat alteration) as well as climate change which caused the extinctions.

American Cheetah

The authors believe that the research provides insights into the consequences of pressures on megafauna living today, including tigers, polar bears, elephants and rhinos.

Graham Prescott, currently a PhD student at the University of Cambridge and co-author on the paper, highlighted how their research may inform us about the current plight facing large animals: "Our research suggests that a combination of human pressure and climate change was able to cause the extinctions of many large animals in the past.

Many large, charismatic animals today are threatened by both hunting pressure and changes in climate; if we do not take action to address these issues we may see further extinctions. And in contrast to the people who first encountered these megafauna, people today are fully aware of the consequences of our actions; this gives us hope that we can prevent future extinctions, but will make it all the worse if we do not."

David Williams, currently a PhD student at the University of Cambridge and co-author on the paper, added: "The loss of these animals has been a zoological puzzle since the time of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. At that time, many people didn't believe that human-caused extinctions were possible, but Wallace argued otherwise. We have now shown, 100 years later, that he was right, and that humans, combined with climate change have been affecting other species for tens of thousands of years and continue to do so. Hopefully, now though, we are in a position to do something about it."

Professor Rhys Green, an author on the paper from the University of Cambridge and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said: "Most previous studies have argued that the extinction of mammoths and other megafauna is linked separately to either human pressure or climatic change.

Our work indicates that they had their devastating effect working together. This previous combination of unusual patterns of climate change and direct human pressure from hunting and habitat destruction is similar to those to which we are subjecting nature to today and what happened before should be taken as a warning.

The key difference this time is that the climate change is not caused by fluctuations in the Earth's rotation axis but to warming caused by fossil fuel burning and deforestation by humans -- a double whammy of our own making. We should learn the lesson and act urgently to moderate both types of impact."

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