The Ice Age and the First Extinction Caused by Humans

About 195,000 years ago, the modern human species appeared. Humans shared food, living space, and diseases with every other animal, plant, and bacteria. The small number of people who lived back then did not have advanced weapons. They were both predator and prey, just like all other living species. Sometimes humans killed for food. Sometimes others ate them. For thousands of years, humans lived in this balanced relationship with nature.

During the most recent ice age, thick sheets of ice covered the planet. Temperatures were about 25°F (13°C) colder than a typical winter day today. Many species could not deal with the cold weather. They either moved to warmer places or died.

The human species proved to be very adaptable. Archaeologists are scientists who study ancient human civilizations. They think humans developed sharp-pointed weapons and new hunting techniques sometime during the Ice Age. During this time, many mammals known as megafauna grew to enormous sizes. Wooly mammoths looked like hairy elephants and were as tall and heavy as two cars. Mastodons, giant beavers, saber-toothed cats, and teratorn birds with 25-foot (8-m) wingspans also lived along the edges of the ice sheets.

Around 10,000 years ago, the ice melted. Homo sapiens explored and settled new lands previously covered under ice. (Today, ice sheets only remain over Antarctica and Greenland.) They formed

Mastodons, mammoths, horses, camels, bison, a sloth, and a great blue heron join Paleo-Indians in this scene from 33,000 years ago. Fossil remains found in northwest Oklahoma offer the earliest evidence we have of human life in North America.

the first farming communities. Some say human civilization began at this time. Humans used their new hunting skills and hunted the megafauna into extinction. It was the first extinction caused by human beings. Unfortunately, it was not the last.

0 0

Post a comment