Geographic and temporal trends in proboscidean and human radiocarbon histories during the late Pleistocene
The causes of large animal extinctions at the end of the Pleistocene remain a hotly debated topic focused primarily on the effects of human over hunting and climate change. Here we examine multiple, large radiocarbon data sets for humans and extinct proboscideans and explore how variation in their temporal and geographic distributions were related prior to proboscidean extinction. These data include 4532 archaeological determinations from Europe and Siberia and 1177 mammoth and mastodont determinations from Europe, Siberia, and North America. All span the period from 45,000 to 12,000 calendar years BP. We show that while the geographic ranges of dated human occupations and proboscidean remains overlap across the terminal Pleistocene of the Old World, the two groups remain largely segregated and increases in the frequency of human occupations do not coincide with declines in proboscidean remains. Prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; ca 21,000 years BP), archaeological 14C determinations increase slightly in frequency worldwide while the frequency of dated proboscidean remains varies depending on taxon and location. After the LGM, both sympatric and allopatric groups of humans and proboscideans increase sharply as climatic conditions ameliorate. Post-LGM radiocarbon frequencies among proboscideans peak at different times, also depending upon taxon and location. Woolly mammoths in Beringia reach a maximum and then decline beginning between 16,000 and 15,500 years BP, woolly mammoths in Europe and Siberia ca 14,500 and 13,500 BP, and Columbian mammoth and American mastodont only after 13,000 BP. Declines among woolly mammoths appear to coincide with the restructuring of biotic communities following the Pleistocene–Holocene transition.
Ugan, Andrew, and David Byers. "Geographic and temporal trends in proboscidean and human radiocarbon histories during the late Pleistocene." Quaternary Science Reviews 26, no. 25-28 (2007): 3058-3080.
Quaternary Science Reviews