Autumn Quarter, 2017
Giants Sloths and Sabertooth Cats: The Archaeology of Extinction
In North America, our ancestors have been blamed for the extinction of Ice Age mammoths, beavers the size of bears, and sloths as big as elephants. In Australia, the list of victims is said to include marsupials the size of rhinos and 400-pound wombats; in New Zealand, giant flightless birds that weighed as much as 500 pounds; in Eurasia, woolly rhinos and cave bears. In this class, we will learn about these animals and use our knowledge of the human past to explore whether our species is really the cause of all these losses. We will learn about the kinds of settings that have been most vulnerable to past human activities, and to be cautious of many of the things that the popular media might wish you to believe.