Putting North America’s End-Pleistocene Megafaunal Extinction in Context

Large-Scale Analyses of Spatial Patterns, Extinction Rates, and Size Distributions
  • John Alroy
Part of the Advances in Vertebrate Paleobiology book series (AIVP, volume 2)


After many decades of debate, the North American end-Pleistocene megafaunal mass extinction remains a lightning rod of controversy. The extraordinarily divergent opinions expressed in this volume show that no resolution is in sight. My own position is quite heterodox: I believe that the overkill hypothesis, at least in general terms, already has been “proven” as thoroughly as any historical hypothesis can be. All of the key evidence was available years ago, and all of it firmly refutes competing, ecologically oriented hypotheses (Martin, 1967, 1984). The event’s timing, rapidity, selectivity, and geographic pattern all make good sense according to the anthropogenic model, and no sense at all otherwise. To my eyes, this assessment is so clear-cut that further “tests” (e.g., Beck, 1996) are not really necessary.


Small Mammal Late Pleistocene Mass Extinction Extinction Rate Large Mammal 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Alroy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PaleobiologySmithsonian InstitutionUSA

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