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Twilight of the Mammoths: Ice Age Extinctions and the Rewilding of America

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  84 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
As recently as 11,000 years ago—"near time" to geologists—mammoths, mastodons, gomphotheres, ground sloths, giant armadillos, native camels and horses, the dire wolf, and many other large mammals roamed North America. In what has become one of science's greatest riddles, these large animals vanished in North and South America around the time humans arrived at the end of th ...more
Hardcover, 269 pages
Published November 7th 2005 by University of California Press (first published 2005)
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Ilya
Dec 26, 2010 Ilya rated it liked it
Large animals in Africa and tropical Asia have had millions of years to adapt to hominids, but large animals in all the other continents hadn't. When humans colonized Australia about 50 thousand years ago, this was the end of a giant monitor lizard ten times the weight of the Komodo dragon, a rhinoceros-sized marsupial browser, and several species of large kangaroos. When humans colonized the Americas about 13 thousand years ago, the same happened to mammoths, mastodons, gomphotheres (tropical m ...more
Sheryl
Jul 08, 2011 Sheryl rated it liked it
I find the idea of repopulating the Americas with relatives of extinct natives to be very interesting. I am not sure it is totally practical, but I can easily see elephants on the plains of Texas. What fun that would be!
Paul R. Fleischman
Apr 13, 2014 Paul R. Fleischman rated it it was amazing
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 Islands and elsewhere. The late Paul S. Martin (who died in 2010) intended this book to be his legacy volume, and although its scientific basis has been altered by subsequent research, it remains far from outdated, and provides an inspirational call for human restraint, and for environmental restoration.
The essence
...more
Kirsten
Jun 21, 2011 Kirsten rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, non-fiction
Paul Martin paints a fascinating picture of North America 13,000 years ago in this excellent work of non-fiction. Martin is a strong proponent of the idea that prehistoric humans are the cause of the extinction of many of the large mammals that once roamed North America, and he presents compelling evidence for his theory here. The extinction of the mammoths, ground sloths, and other large mammals has often been chalked up to climate change in the past, but Martin believes this is inaccurate. He ...more
Stephen
Speaking of which, I finally finished Twilight of the Mammoths, which I began....months ago. I'd wanted to learn more about the megafauna that dominated the Americas before humans arrived. I'm utterly fascinated by the idea of primitive North America as a land of lions and cheetahs, a wilderness teeming more with large life than even Africa. As it turns out, a primary source for learning about ancient mammalian behaviour is...dung. Dung is mentioned more in Twilight of the Mammoths than it is in ...more
Keith Akers
Oct 20, 2015 Keith Akers rated it really liked it
This is an interesting and uneven book. It’s part theory, part memoir, all defending the prehistoric overkill hypothesis: the idea that humans were responsible for the extinction of many species in prehistory, due to overhunting. All those mammoths and mastadons, giant sloths, the dire wolf, several species of horses, an American version of the camel, and more besides — rendered extinct shortly after humans arrived in the Americas.

What’s uneven is the writing part. The writing isn’t really awfu
...more
Tina Cipolla
Aug 31, 2015 Tina Cipolla rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read from the late Paul Martin! If you are interested in environmental issues this book will detail for you the intellectual underpinnings of the rewilding movement.

Keep in mind this book is several years old and some of the information in it is out of date. Nonetheless, I have not seen a better laid out argument for the overkill theory, even though I largely disagree with it. What makes this book so good though, even to one who disagrees with its central argument on near term extincti
...more
Frederic Murray
Dec 12, 2013 Frederic Murray rated it it was amazing
Who killed all the Megafauna in North America? Looks like we did after crossing the land bridge from Asia som 10,000 years ago...Professor Martin is the go-to-guy in this field, a great scholar, a solid writer.
Adam
Twilight has the dubious distinction of being one of the only references Mark Shepard cites in Restoration Agriculture. He implies that Martin details some of the Pleistocene ecologies that he urges us to mimic in designing Anthropocene food-producing ecosystems. Such lessons are few and far between in the book, however; Martin lays out the history of the megafauna overkill hypothesis and gives a remarkably fair presentation of the evidence and arguments for and against it, though of course he c ...more
Dave
Jan 06, 2009 Dave rated it liked it
This was a very interesting quick read (only 216 pg) that my sweet wife got me for Christmas, knowing my fascination for extinct Mammals such as Mammoths, Sabre-tooths, Giant Sloths, etc.

The theory being presented here by the author is that the mass extinctions that occurred among megafauna in the Americas at around 13,000 to 10,000 years ago were caused by overkill from the new Americans, rather than climate change. Other than a couple chapters in which the author goes into great detail about
...more
Gnomepartay
Feb 25, 2015 Gnomepartay rated it really liked it
Assigned to read this book for an Extinction class in college. For a required text it was rather easy to read and provided interesting insight into how early humans interacted with their environment.
Jeremy Colson
Martin hypothesizes that the earliest Americans literally hunted to death all the animals that lived in North America 11,000 years ago. Fascinating stuff. Very readable book.
P.
May 29, 2008 P. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Biologists
A good book about the Pleistocene/Holocene interface and the world changed. Interestingly, beyond portraying that world the author wishes to "re-wild" the Americas, restoring the systems that were. The author seems to be firmly on the side of the Pleistocene overkill hypothesis or the climate change model or somewhere in between as to the explanation of the vanished genra of the Americas. That is the most likely explanation.
Mr S Carroll
Dec 21, 2014 Mr S Carroll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rewilding of america

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 megafauna. The ultimate super predator - us. Claiming it was climate change according to the author just doesn't stack up. I'm convinced.
Virginia
Oct 16, 2012 Virginia rated it really liked it
This is a very convincing thesis for the human caused extinction of not just the large and varied mammals of North America 11,000 YAG. The pattern of humans moving onto a new continent or island and the extinction of major fauna was repeaded with every expansion. Well worth reading.
John
Dec 28, 2008 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned that I am still not positive that the Pleistocene magefauna were killed by Homo sapien but I do want to see Elephants in New Mexico.
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