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Prehistoric Extinctions on Islands and Continents

  • Paul S. Martin
  • David W. Steadman
Chapter
Part of the Advances in Vertebrate Paleobiology book series (AIVP, volume 2)

Abstract

Geological extinction of a continental megafauna of Holarctic mammoths, American ground sloths, and Australian diprotodonts, to name a few mammalian examples, rivals pulsing ice sheets and fluctuating sea levels in being a hallmark of the Quaternary. To these more familiar examples of late Quaternary extinction (LQE), younger fossils recently recovered from oceanic islands, including bird and land snail taxa from the Pacific and various endemic terrestrial vertebrates from the Caribbean, add many thousands of species and endemic populations to the extinction list. Apart from loss of a few pinnipeds and sirenians (large coastal or estuarine mammals), the LQE was strictly a terrestrial accident. Unlike the case on islands, on the continents virtually all small vertebrates (other than commensals or parasites of the large mammals) escaped extinction. Looking toward the continents from deep-water islands promises to aid in our understanding of what happened, when it did, and what forced the change.

Keywords

Late Pleistocene Oceanic Island Large Mammal Land Bird Kill Site 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul S. Martin
    • 1
  • David W. Steadman
    • 2
  1. 1.The Desert Laboratory, Department of GeosciencesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Florida Museum of Natural HistoryUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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