|Actual picture I took of a Saber Tooth Tiger. I found him right after I had a nice conversation with Bigfoot. OK, just kidding. But really, where did all the Saber Tooth Cats go???|
The most widely known explanation for the extinction of large mammals at the end of the Ice Age is over hunting by humans who recently colonized the continent. This is a very simple explanation, humans, new to the continent simply hunted the large mammals until there where no more. The problem with this hypothesis is that the human population was probably not dense enough to exert such a huge hunting pressure.
A second explanation is the climate change at the end of the Ice Age. Warming caused a change in the available food for all animals. This caused starvation of large herbivorous mammals, therefore causing the predators to starve also.
A third explanation is that when humans invaded the continent, they altered the ecosystem so that it could no longer support many large mammals. Of course hunting played a role in this, but also as humans consumed plants, and used fire to alter the ecosystem. As humans ate certain plants, animals had to change their food sources. As humans burned areas with fire, say changing a forest into a grassland, only certain animals could survive. Basically, humans altered the ecosystem in ways that changed food chains, causing some animals to die off and others to thrive.
A fourth explanation is the most complex. It is that all three of the above played a role in the extinction of large Ice Age mammals. Through a combination of a warming climate changing food sources for animals, hunting by humans, and human alteration of ecosystems by use of fire and harvesting of plants and animals, large mammals went extinct. This seems to be the latest consensus of the scientific community. Different species of animals would have gone extinct as a result of different factors. Some may have been hunted to extinction, others died as their food source changed, and others died as their ecosystem changed.
All this has huge implications for our world today. Today again we are going though a change in the climate. Plants and animals are having to adjust what they eat and where they live as the weather warms. Humans also are changing the landscape in very drastic ways, also causing animals and plants to change where they live. Basically, those that are able to survive and adapt to these changes will survive. Those that can't will die off.
Oh-ya, there is another explanation for the Saber-Tooth Tiger that a few people support. That is, that the Saber-Tooth Tiger is still living today, probably hidden away in some remote forest cave as a pet of Bigfoot or the Lock ness Monster. Hmmm...
|A man about to be eaten by a Saber Tooth Cat. The man has no idea what's coming.|