The Pleistocene overkill

Author: Johan Thissen

More than half of the planet’s large mammal species have become extinct since the last Interglacial, which ended about 120,000 year ago. Whilst this has happened all over the world, the extent of these extinctions is not geographically uniform, with Europe, northern Asia, the Americas and Australia experiencing a far greater number and proportion of mega-fauna extinctions than Africa and southern Asia.

For over fifty years there has been a heated debate about what has caused these extinctions.In 1966 Paul S. Martin (1966) formulated the Pleistocene overkill hypothesis in the journal Nature. This hypothesis has been tested in many publications. Almost ten years ago researchers at the University of Aarhus published the results of their examination of the correlations between the number of extinct large mammals, human pressure and changes in temperature and precipitation (Sandom et al. 2014). This month an article was published in the journal Anthropocene, that, again, presents good evidence that hunting by man, rather than........