Since the mid-nineteenth century, it has been widely assumed that prehistoric human activities caused the extinction of numerous species of vertebrates. Today, the archaeological record relating to prehistoric extinctions has become impressively refined. While the importance of this record to conservation biology, ecology, archaeology, and paleontology is widely acknowledged, the details are relatively unknown outside of a very small subset of archaeologists and paleontologists.
Archaeology 470 is meant to provide a detailed introduction to the prehistoric archaeological record dealing with vertebrate extinctions. The course focuses on those parts of the world where the relevant archaeological, paleontological and paleocological empirical records are strong (for instance, North America, Europe, and New Zealand) or where, even though aspects of these empirical records are weak, substantial prehistoric extinctions are known and their causes heavily debated (for instance, Australia).