The quaternary extinction event happened about 10,000-40,000 years ago. This even is when megafaunal animals went extinct. This event saw the extinction of more than 178 species. Megafaunals are defined as “A term generally used to refer to the largest animals present within an ecosystem, most often used with respect to the array of large-bodied species which suffered extinction during the Quaternary. A strict definition refers to animal species weighing more than 44kg(Surovell,3)”. Megafaunals lived around the time of the ice age.
Megafaunal nimals include woolly mammoths, sabertooth cats and giant ground sloths. There are two theories as to why they went extinct. The first theory is that they went extinct due to humans over hunting them. The second theory is that megafunals were unable to adapted to their changing environment. Megafaunals were the main source of food for the prehistoric humans. When humans first crossed the Beringia land bridge, they were in a place full of animals that have never experienced humans before. Megafaunals are mainly very large and slow moving animals which made it very easy for humans to hunt them.
Due to the fact that they were so easy to hunt, humans were able to hunt them with minimal effort. Because they were being hunted so often, they were unable to reproduce quick enough in order to build their species and keep up with the humans. “This abundance of food stimulated human population growth, which hastened the megafauna extinctions. That hunting was a key factor in causing the extinctions is suggested by finds of kill sites where huge heaps of bones have been discovered at the base of cliffs, over which stampeded herds seem to have been driven”(Whyte, 1)”.
The humans took full advantage of the new found food source. They used their hunting skills to actually herd animals to their death to maximize their food supply. With a growing human population, there was more of a demand for food. The megafaunals were there in abundance for the humans to hunt. Humans had a hand in the megafaunal extinction because “The argument is simply that prehistoric human hunting dramatically modified animal communities, and had humans not colonized the planet, most of the species that suffered extinction during the Pleistocene and Holocene would till exist today”(Surovell,2).
Therefore, megafaunals dwindled down over the years until they eventually went extinct. Megafaunals went extincted because they were not able to adapt to their changing environment. As the ice that was covering much of Europe and North America started melting due to the rise in global temperature and “Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere were also rising and contributing to global warming(Lawrence, 1)”. The environment started to change and get warmer. Megafaunals had enough fur to keep them warm during the harsh and cold conditions of the ce age.
Also, because they were big, they were able to store heat easily. Humans hunted them and used their fur to keep them warm. When the conditions got warmer, the humans were able to take the fur clothes off, but the megafaunals were not so Lucy. They were made for cold weather but as the weather started to get warmer, they were unable to adapt. They got very hot and tired out easily which made there quality of life difficult. Eventually they died out leaving all the megafaunals extinct. Also, with the arrival of humans, the environment was changed ue to their arrival.
Humans stopped moving around and started creating settlements. They started to set up small communities and started farming. In order to improve the vegetation around them, the humans started fire stick farming. That was “Another possible indirect influence is human modification of the original vegetation cover by the use of fire, with the major disturbance of existing ecosystems. In conclusion, the quaternary extinction event where many megafauanls went extinct was due to humans over hunting them and their inability to adapt to a changing environment.
The megafaunals were like nothing humans ever saw before. They took advantage of the new food source and started hunting excessively. Also, with the ever changing environment near the end of the ice age, the megafauanls had trouble adapting to the new environment. The climate was always changing. In addition, humans changed the environment of the megafaunals by taking over the land and starting small communies. Humans were unlike anything the megafaunals have ever encountered. Thus, these two events contributed to the quaternary extinction event.