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End of the Megafauna: The Fate of the…
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End of the Megafauna: The Fate of the World's Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest Animals (edition 2018)

by Ross D.E. MacPhee (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1106246,980 (3.69)4
"The fascinating lives and puzzling demise of some of the largest animals on earth. Until a few thousand years ago, creatures that could have been from a sci-fi thriller--including gorilla-sized lemurs, 800-pound birds, crocodiles that weighed a ton or more--roamed the earth. These great beasts, or "megafauna," lived on every habitable continent and on many islands. With a handful of exceptions, all are now gone. What caused the disappearance of these prehistoric behemoths? Paleomammologist Ross D. E. MacPhee explores that question, examining the leading extinction theories, weighing the evidence, and presenting his own conclusions. He shows how theories of human overhunting and catastrophic climate change fail to explain critical features of these extinctions, and how new thinking is needed to elucidate these mysterious losses. He comments on how past extinctions can shed light on future losses, and on the possibility of bringing back extinct species through genetic engineering. Gorgeous four-color illustrations by Peter Schouten bring these megabeasts back to life in vivid detail."--… (more)
Member:nightcat
Title:End of the Megafauna: The Fate of the World's Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest Animals
Authors:Ross D.E. MacPhee (Author)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2018), Edition: 1, 256 pages
Collections:Read, Did Not Finish, Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:non-fiction, biology, prehistory, paleontology, natural history, megafauna, 2024

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End of the Megafauna: The Fate of the World's Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest Animals by Ross D. E. MacPhee

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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Fascinating book! I had no idea megafaunal extinctions present so many unanswered questions, I had assumed it was all down to humans overhunting. ( )
  Autolycus21 | Oct 10, 2023 |
I enjoyed this.

Like, I suppose, so many people, I have been much more familiar with dinosaurs and their relatives than the larger extinct creatures of the more immediate past. I got a really child-like pleasure at Peter Schouten’s illustrations for this book. There is real wonder in looking at images of creatures I’d never dreamed of, like the ‘marsupial tapir’, Palorchestes azael, or herds of ‘macrauchenia’ (there are some great—and varied—online images of both).

We know what happened to these species (spoiler—they died out); but we don’t really know why. MacPhee doesn’t give us easy answers; but he does give us a good overview of the competing theories and their strengths and weaknesses. It turns out that things are nothing like as simple as I’d thought before reading this. Overhunting by humans? Climate change? Other factors? It’s really not at all clear.

This is a really good first introduction to the subject and had me looking covetously at his ‘Guide to Additional Reading’ and his bibliography. ( )
1 vote alaudacorax | Jun 9, 2021 |
Mostly dealing with the demise of the "megafauna" of the title in the Late Pleistocene, MacPhee's goal is to walk you through the arguments as to whether the disappearance of these creatures can mostly be attributed to raw climate change, or whether Paul S. Martin's hypothesis that Neolithic humans were sufficiently numerous and motivated to be the main agent of extinction of large mammals; particularly in North America. The conclusion that MacPhee comes to is neither of these two explanations are supported by enough evidence to really be embraced, at least as a general all-purpose explanation. While some readers will be annoyed at the lack of a definitive answer, MacPhee is to be praised for a look at how science actually works, and the value of restraint before jumping to conclusions. ( )
  Shrike58 | Nov 5, 2020 |
This provides a good introduction and overview to the extinctions that occurred in the Cenozoic Era, focusing mainly on the megafaunal extinction at the end of the Pleistocene era. The author discusses the evidence (or lack thereof), the various hypotheses, and the opposing or contradictory evidence and opinions. Also discussed is the effect that early humans had on the megafauna and if human actions may be responsible for some of the extinctions. This is an interesting, well thought-out book that is lavishly illustrated and a joy to read. ( )
  ElentarriLT | Mar 24, 2020 |
Enjoyed the book. Anything to do with pre-historic animals I will read. The book explains all the different theories of why the large animals went extinct before and during the ice ages. The illustrations are outstanding. ( )
  caanderson | Jul 21, 2019 |
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"The fascinating lives and puzzling demise of some of the largest animals on earth. Until a few thousand years ago, creatures that could have been from a sci-fi thriller--including gorilla-sized lemurs, 800-pound birds, crocodiles that weighed a ton or more--roamed the earth. These great beasts, or "megafauna," lived on every habitable continent and on many islands. With a handful of exceptions, all are now gone. What caused the disappearance of these prehistoric behemoths? Paleomammologist Ross D. E. MacPhee explores that question, examining the leading extinction theories, weighing the evidence, and presenting his own conclusions. He shows how theories of human overhunting and catastrophic climate change fail to explain critical features of these extinctions, and how new thinking is needed to elucidate these mysterious losses. He comments on how past extinctions can shed light on future losses, and on the possibility of bringing back extinct species through genetic engineering. Gorgeous four-color illustrations by Peter Schouten bring these megabeasts back to life in vivid detail."--

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