A Foraging Theory Perspective on the Paleoindian Exploitation of North American Megafauna

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 16:00
, Allison L. - University of Utah
, Jack M. - University of Utah
, William C. - University of Utah

It is now known that at least 37 genera of large mammals went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene in North America. Grayson and Meltzer (2015) plot the relationship between the paleontological and archaeological occurrences of extinct and extant late Pleistocene large mammal taxa (Fig. 2, pg. 189) and observe that, relative to extant taxa, extinct forms were taken less frequently than surviving taxa by Clovis hunters—a clear negation of overkill. However, we note that the timescales they utilized are vastly different. We build on their argument, but do so within a foraging theory framework and refine the data set to include only paleontological and archaeological records of extinct and extant fauna from Clovis times. We find that the number of archaeological sites for any given taxa scale positively with the number of paleontological sites, and thus there is no apparent underrepresentation of extinct taxa in Clovis-period sites.