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While they were not the earliest inhabitants of the Americas, the Clovis people had an extremely significant prehistoric culture that was distinctive and widespread across what is now North America. Clovis tools and weapons, including the iconic Clovis spear point, are easily recognized by almost every North American archaeological student. But new research reveals that Clovis tool manufacturing only existed for about 300 years and fell by the wayside at the same time as the last of the North American megafauna went extinct.
The Clovis culture gets its name from Clovis, New Mexico, where the distinctive stone tools were first identified in 1929. For a long time, researchers believed the Clovis people were the first group of people to make the journey at the end of the last Ice Age into what is now North America, and the age of this culture has been a continued topic of debate. Clovis points are made in jasper, chert, obsidian, and other brittle stones that could be chipped into sharp edged weapons with spear-shaped tips.
Clovis points in the Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist collection . (Billwhittaker/ CC BY SA 3.0 )
But the results of new analysis on bones and other artifacts reveal that Clovis tools were only being made for about 300 years, from 13,050 to 12,750 years ago. This new research comes from Michael Waters, a Clovis expert, Anthropology professor, and director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M, who teamed up with Texas A&M anthropologist David Carlson, and Thomas Stafford of Stafford Research in Colorado.
The Demise of Clovis Tools and North American Megafauna
ScienceDaily reports that the research team used radiocarbon dating on bone, charcoal, and carbonized plant remains which they obtained from 10 known Clovis sites . Samples were analyzed from South Dakota, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Montana, and two sites in Oklahoma and Wyoming. The results show that the well-known Clovis points and other Clovis tools were only being made for 300 years. Waters sa ys that the researchers are uncertain “how or why Clovis technology emerged and why it disappeared so quickly.”
Map of the location of dated Clovis sites. ( Waters, M.R., Stafford , T.W. Jr. and Carlson, D. L. / Science Advances )
However, Waters also notes a possible relationship between the Clovis tools and the demise of North American megafauna in a Texas A&M press release . He says:
“It is intriguing to note that Clovis people first appears 300 years before the demise of the last of the megafauna that once roamed North America during a time of great climatic and environmental change. The disappearance of Clovis from the archaeological record at 12,750 years ago is coincident with the extinction of mammoth and mastodon, the last of the megafauna. Perhaps Clovis weaponry was developed to hunt the last of these large beasts.”
Clovis weapons may have been developed to hunt the last of the North American megafauna. ( Daniel /Adobe Stock)
This observation does not mean that the people who made Clovis weapons and tools necessarily died when the megafauna went extinct, it is also possible that they adapted to new hunting methods and created new toolkits to survive in a different environment.
Questioning the Clovis-First Theory
The traditional view about the peopling of the Americas says that during the late Pleistocene period Paleo-Indian people crossed from what is now known as north-east Asia into Alaska via the Beringia land-bridge. The first inhabitants were said to have made this epic journey between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago.
The mark of these people is the aforementioned stone tool known as the ‘Clovis point’ – which archaeologists saw as the sign of people who hunted megafauna. From the 1930s until the 1970s, the Clovis-first theory was the theory about the peopling of the Americas. But then researchers began to make discoveries that were older than they were “supposed to be”, clearly questioning the Clovis-first theory . Thus, the timing and method(s) of the first migration into the Americas became a source of great controversy.
- The Great American Origins Debate: Clovis First vs Pre-Clovis
- Did the Pre-Clovis Cultures in America Originate from Japan?
- Clovis Burial Site Finally Gets Accurate Dating from Amino Acid Test
The Texas A&M press release recognizes that the short age range given by this new study for the Clovis culture “does not provide sufficient time for people to colonize both North and South America.” However Waters note s that “Clovis still remains important because it is so distinctive and widespread across North America.”
Prehistoric Toolkits Varied in the Americas
The new study, which is published in the current issue of Science Advances , explains that the revised age for Clovis tools shows it was one of at least three contemporary toolkits “in the Western Hemisphere during the terminal Pleistocene.” Waters says that “Clovis with its distinctive fluted lanceolate spear point, typically found in the Plains and eastern United States, is contemporaneous with stemmed point-making people in the Western United States and the earliest spear points , called Fishtail points, in South America.”
Clovis tools were one of at least three contemporary toolkits in the Western Hemisphere during the terminal Pleistocene. (W.Scott McGill /Adobe Stock)
Even though the Clovis wasn’t the first or only stone tool making group of people living in the region at the time, this culture had a significant impact when they were alive and when archaeologists found signs of their existence thousands of years later. The exact origins and demise of this widespread prehistoric culture are still uncertain , so studies like the current one can provide important clues in solving the riddles.
The (Pre) History of Clovis - Early Hunting Groups of the Americas
Clovis is what archaeologists call the oldest widespread archaeological complex in North America. Named after the town in New Mexico near where the first accepted Clovis site Blackwater Draw Locality 1 was discovered, Clovis is most well-known for its stunningly beautiful stone projectile points, found all over the United States, northern Mexico, and southern Canada.
Clovis technology was not likely the first in the American continents: that was the culture called Pre-Clovis, who arrived before Clovis culture at least one thousand years earlier and are likely ancestral to Clovis.
While Clovis sites are found throughout North America, the technology only lasted for a brief period of time. The dates of Clovis vary from region to region. In the American west, Clovis sites range in age from 13,400-12,800 calendar years ago BP [cal BP], and in the east, from 12,800-12,500 cal BP. The earliest Clovis points found so far are from the Gault site in Texas, 13,400 cal BP: meaning Clovis-style hunting lasted a period of time no longer than 900 years.
There are several long-standing debates in Clovis archaeology, about the purpose and meaning of the egregiously gorgeous stone tools about whether they were solely big game hunters and about what made Clovis people abandon the strategy.
The Clovis Point and the Discovery of America’s First Culture
When Edgar B. Howard heard that a road crew in eastern New Mexico had stumbled across a cache of big ancient bones, he dropped everything and grabbed the first westbound train. At the time—November 1932—Howard was an archaeology research associate at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. He had been working for a few years in the Southwest and had seen his colleagues in this intensely competitive profession snatch discoveries from under his nose. Days later, he was in Clovis, New Mexico, persuading the landowners to let him excavate.
Howard launched his field project at the site the following summer, soon uncovering what he called the “matted masses of bones of mammoth.” Mixed in with the bones were slender, finger-long spear points—Clovis points, as they are called today—which Howard carefully left in place. Eminent researchers quickly converged on Clovis and bore witness to the discovery.
Clovis points are wholly distinctive. Chipped from jasper, chert, obsidian and other fine, brittle stone, they have a lance-shaped tip and (sometimes) wickedly sharp edges. Extending from the base toward the tips are shallow, concave grooves called “flutes” that may have helped the points be inserted into spear shafts. Typically about four inches long and a third of an inch thick, they were sleek and often beautifully made. After discovering Clovis points in New Mexico, Howard and others looked for traces of them in collections of artifacts from Siberia, the origin of the first Americans. None have ever been found. Clovis points, it seems, were an American invention—perhaps the first American invention.
More than 10,000 Clovis points have been discovered, scattered in 1,500 locations throughout most of North America Clovis points, or something similar, have turned up as far south as Venezuela. They seem to have materialized suddenly, by archaeological standards, and spread fast. The oldest securely dated points, discovered in Texas, trace back 13,500 years. In a few centuries they show up everywhere from Florida to Montana, from Pennsylvania to Washington State.
Care must be taken: Dating stone objects is difficult, and the results are subject to controversy (the timeline here is from a widely cited 2007 article in Science by Michael R. Waters of Texas A&M and Thomas W. Stafford Jr., who then operated a private archaeological lab in Colorado). Even when dates are established, they are not easy to interpret. Because artifact styles—forms of pottery, tools, spear points—can change arbitrarily, one can’t say that a particular style necessarily represents a particular society. The near-simultaneous advent of Clovis points might represent the swift adoption of an improved technology by different groups, rather than the spread of one group. Still, most researchers believe that the rapid dissemination of Clovis points is evidence that a single way of life—the Clovis culture—swept across the continent in a flash. No other culture has dominated so much of the Americas.
So quickly did Clovis proliferate that researchers imagined it must be the first truly American culture, the people who took fire and spear across landscapes empty of humankind. But others kept offering data that the Americas were inhabited before Clovis. The vituperative debate ended only when strong evidence for a pre-Clovis settlement turned up in Chile in the late 1990s. Other pre-Clovis sites followed, notably a cave in Oregon with fossilized human excrement identified by DNA analysis and dated by accelerator mass spectrometry. Little is understood about these early peoples. Clovis may no longer be the oldest American culture, but it remains the oldest American culture we know much about.
Initially discovered between the rib bones of large, extinct mammals, Clovis points were long viewed as hunting tools. Similarly, it was thought that the Clovis culture focused on hunting big game—“Pleistocene megafauna.” To this day, countless museum dioramas portray doughty paleo-Indian men thrusting spears in the faces of mammoths, mastodons and saber-toothed tigers. Women and children lurk at the edges, hoping the hunters will survive. Later archaeologists questioned this picture. Chasing after giant beasts with sticks and sharp stones is dangerous. How could any group base its subsistence on something so risky? It would be like a society in which the majority of adults made their living by disarming land mines.
In a study published in 2002, Donald Grayson of the University of Washington and David Meltzer of Southern Methodist University searched through data from scores of Clovis sites for evidence of humans killing big animals (butchered bones, for instance). In only 14 did they find evidence of hunting—or, possibly, “hunting,” since at several of the sites people seemed to have killed animals at water holes that were already near death. “Pitiful,” Meltzer joked in First Peoples in a New World, his history of America’s first colonization. Today it appears likely that Clovis people depended mostly on foraging for plants, hunting small mammals and, probably, fishing. Along with scrapers, blades, drills and needles, the Clovis point was part of a generalized tool kit—the Leatherman of the ancient world—that human beings used to flood into a still-new land.
Clovis points were made for three or four centuries, then disappeared. So did the culture that created them. As Clovis people settled into different ecological zones, the culture split into separate groups, each adapting to its own separate environment. The end of Clovis marked the beginning of the enormous social, cultural and linguistic diversity that characterized the next 10,000 years. Of the brief florescence of Clovis, only the tools, notably the points, remained—the last physical traces of America’s first and most extensive cultural imperium.
The author of the recent best-selling books 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, Charles C. Mann sees our country’s past in the light of events that stretch back at least as far as 13,500 years ago, when people first began to fabricate the stone tools known as Clovis points.
“The Americas have a long and fascinating history before Columbus,” he says. “I think everyone should know it—it’s the history of half the world, and it’s part of our human story.”
Which Came first?
Despite what you may have read, it is not clear which of these forces—climate change, human migration, and megafaunal extinctions—caused the others, and it is very likely that the three forces worked together to re-sculpt the planet. When our earth became colder, the vegetation changed, and animals that did not adapt rapidly died out. Climate change may well have driven human migrations. People moving into new territories as new predators might have had negative effects on the existing fauna, through overkill of a particularly easy animal prey, or the spread of new diseases.
But it must be remembered that the loss of the mega-herbivores also drove climate change. Enclosure studies have shown that large-bodied mammals such as elephants suppress woody vegetation, accounting for 80% of woody plant loss. The loss of large numbers of browsing, grazing, and grass-eating mega-mammals certainly led or added to the decrease of open vegetation and habitat mosaics, the increased occurrence of fire, and the decline of co-evolved plants. Long-term effects on seed dispersion continue to affect plant species distributions for thousands of years.
This co-occurrence of humans in migration, climate change, and animal die-off is the most recent time in our human history where climate change and human interactions together re-designed the living palette of our planet. Two areas of our planet are the primary focus of the studies of Late Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions: North America and Australia, with some studies continuing in South America and Eurasia. All of these areas were subject to massive changes in temperature, including the variable presence of glacial ice, and plant and animal life each sustained the arrival of a new predator in the food chain each saw related decreases and reconfiguration of the available animal and plants. Evidence collected by archaeologists and paleontologists in each of the areas tells a slightly different story.
Glacier Melting Clues
The likeliest period when the first Americans arrived in the Western Hemisphere was not long after the last glacial maximum when continental glaciers were beginning to melt.
Glaciers at their greatest extent covered nearly a third of the world’s landmass 20,000 years ago, reaching as far south as New York City. Following this deep freeze, the Earth’s climate saw extreme variations, but its overall trend was warmer for the next 12,000 years.
About 15,000 years ago, ancestors of the Clovis people were probably living on the Bering land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. But two continental glaciers in Canada blocked their entry to the Americas. As warming accelerated 13,500 years ago, the glaciers began to melt and separate in northwestern Canada.
Subsequently, the Clovis people traveled south through an ice-free corridor to the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains, according to traditional archaeological theory. They could not have migrated south through this ice-free corridor any earlier than 13,500 years ago glaciers blocked their way.
The Clovis-first theory remained dominant until a scientific breakthrough suddenly damaged its credibility and changed the direction of American archaeology.
In 1997, Thomas D. Dillehay, an archaeologist at Vanderbilt University, and his colleagues distributed a site report on their excavation of an ancient settlement called Monte Verde about 40 miles from the Pacific Ocean in Chile. Dillehay’s team had excavated the remains of several ancient structures, stone and wood implements, and clay-lined hearths that contained charcoal and burned plant foods. All were buried in the same geological layer under a muddy bog.
Radiocarbon testing, adjusted to calendar years, showed that Monte Verde materials were more than 14,500 years old. A committee of experts visited the site in 1997 and verified Monte Verde’s authenticity.
The discovery at Monte Verde meant that humans were living in the southern cone of South America at least a thousand years before the Clovis people could have traveled south through the ice-free corridor in Canada. Many archaeologists had to drop their pet theory and acknowledge that Clovis people were not first in the Americas.
When the Clovis-first orthodoxy fell apart, some scholars who had believed in it began re-examining why ice-age hunters would have pursued big game for some two thousand miles south through a narrow gap between giant ice sheets in Canada about 13,500 years ago.
“The corridor was an unbelievably hostile environment for humans,” says Collins, who before Monte Verde accepted Clovis-first orthodoxy. “What would pull people into that? What were they chasing? The biggest megafauna there were probably mosquitoes.”
Mammoths (Mammuthus) traveled to North America about 1.7 million to 1.2 million years ago, according to the San Diego Zoo. Although there are some anatomical differences between mammoths and mastodons, both are members of the proboscidean family. Mammoths had fatty humps on their backs that likely provided them with nutrients and warmth during icy periods, according to a February 2013 piece in Live Science.
Mammoths also had flat, ridged molars — a structure that helped them slice through fibrous vegetation, unlike the cusped teeth of the mastodon, MacPhee said. [Image Gallery: Stunning Mammoth Unearthed]
In addition, mammoths are more closely related to modern elephants, especially the Asian elephant, than mastodon, MacPhee said.
Was the Younger Dryas event a cataclysm?
For the dinosaurs, it took a meteor to the Gulf of Mexico to wipe them from the earth. Catastrophic events are linked to extinction episodes throughout earth’s periods.
An alternative to the hunting theory looks at conditions of the earth during this period. It could explain why the megafauna were removed so abruptly.
The Younger Dryas punctuates a remarkable shift in climate conditions on earth. Evidence now reveals the extremity of changes that occurred in this period. So extreme perhaps, to contribute to the disappearance of so many large species.
These have been documented through the research into the ice core sampling in Greenland. Scientists have mapped the history of the earth’s climate over the past 250 000 years. Measurements of the Younger Dryas period, reveal extreme temperature changes of 10 degrees in 10 years in some cases.
Additionally, were the global sea level rise of 400 feet. It coincides with the sudden melting of the North American ice sheet.
Scientists have not agreed what caused these events on earth. However, the catastrophic conditions of the Younger Dryas period point to a sudden and fatal blow to the megafaunal populations all over the planet.
Migration to the Continent Edit
According to the most generally accepted theory of the settlement of the Americas, migrations of humans from Eurasia to the Americas took place via Beringia, a land bridge which connected the two continents across what is now the Bering Strait. The number and composition of the migrations is still being debated.  Falling sea levels associated with an intensive period of Quaternary glaciation created the Bering land bridge that joined Siberia to Alaska about 60–25,000 years ago.   The latest this migration could have taken place is 12,000 years ago the earliest remains undetermined.   The archaeological periods used are the classifications of archaeological periods and cultures established in Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips' 1958 book Method and Theory in American Archaeology which divided the archaeological record in the Americas into five phases  see Archaeology of the Americas.
Paleo-India or Lithic stage Edit
The Paleo-Indian or Lithic stage lasted from the first arrival of people in the Americas until about 5000/3000 BCE (in North America). Three major migrations occurred, as traced by linguistic and genetic data the early Paleoamericans soon spread throughout the Americas, diversifying into many hundreds of culturally distinct nations and tribes.   By 8000 BCE the North American climate was very similar to today's.  A study published in 2012 gives genetic backing to the 1986 theory put forward by linguist Joseph Greenberg that the Americas must have been populated in three waves, based on language differences.  
The Clovis culture, a megafauna hunting culture, is primarily identified by use of fluted spear points. Artifacts from this culture were first excavated in 1932 near Clovis, New Mexico. The Clovis culture ranged over much of North America and also appeared in South America. The culture is identified by the distinctive Clovis point, a flaked flint spear-point with a notched flute, by which it was inserted into a shaft. Dating of Clovis materials has been by association with animal bones and by the use of carbon dating methods. Recent reexaminations of Clovis materials using improved carbon-dating methods produced results of 11,050 and 10,800 radiocarbon years BP (roughly 9100 to 8850 BCE).
Numerous Paleoindian cultures occupied North America, with some arrayed around the Great Plains and Great Lakes of the modern United States of America and Canada, as well as adjacent areas to the West and Southwest. According to the oral histories of many of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, they have been living on this continent since their genesis, described by a wide range of traditional creation stories. Other tribes have stories that recount migrations across long tracts of land and a great river believed to be the Mississippi River.  Genetic and linguistic data connect the indigenous people of this continent with ancient northeast Asians. Archeological and linguistic data has enabled scholars to discover some of the migrations within the Americas.
The Folsom Tradition was characterized by the use of Folsom points as projectile tips and activities known from kill sites, where slaughter and butchering of bison took place. Folsom tools were left behind between 9000 BCE and 8000 BCE. 
Na-Dené-speaking peoples entered North America starting around 8000 BCE, reaching the Pacific Northwest by 5000 BCE,  and from there migrating along the Pacific Coast and into the interior. Linguists, anthropologists, and archeologists believe their ancestors constituted a separate migration into North America, later than the first Paleo-Indians. They migrated into Alaska and northern Canada, south along the Pacific Coast, into the interior of Canada, and south to the Great Plains and the American Southwest.
They were the earliest ancestors of the Athabascan-speaking peoples, including the present-day and historical Navajo and Apache. They constructed large multi-family dwellings in their villages, which were used seasonally. People did not live there year-round, but for the summer to hunt and fish, and to gather food supplies for the winter. 
Meso-Indian or Archaic stage Edit
The Archaic period lasted until about 1000 BCE. A major culture of the Archaic stage was the Mound builders, who stretched from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Since the 1990s, archeologists have explored and dated eleven Middle Archaic sites in present-day Louisiana and Florida at which early cultures built complexes with multiple earthwork mounds they were societies of hunter-gatherers rather than the settled agriculturalists believed necessary according to the theory of Neolithic Revolution to sustain such large villages over long periods. Native American cultures are not included in characterizations of advanced Stone Age cultures as "Neolithic," which is a category that more often includes only the cultures in Eurasia, Africa, and other regions.
The prime example is Watson Brake in northern Louisiana, whose 11-mound complex is dated to 3500 BCE, making it the oldest dated site in the Americas for such complex construction. It is nearly 2,000 years older than the Poverty Point site. Construction of the mounds went on for 500 years until was abandoned about 2800 BCE, probably due to changing environmental conditions. 
Poverty Point culture is a Late Archaic archaeological culture that inhabited the area of the lower Mississippi Valley and surrounding Gulf Coast. The culture thrived from 2200 BCE to 700 BCE, during the Late Archaic period.  Evidence of this culture has been found at more than 100 sites, from the major complex at Poverty Point, Louisiana (a UNESCO World Heritage site) across a 100-mile (160 km) range to the Jaketown Site near Belzoni, Mississippi.
Poverty Point is a 1 square mile (2.6 km 2 ) complex of six major earthwork concentric rings, with additional platform mounds at the site. Artifacts show the people traded with other Native Americans located from Georgia to the Great Lakes region. This is one among numerous mound sites of complex indigenous cultures throughout the Mississippi and Ohio valleys. They were one of several succeeding cultures often referred to as mound builders.
The Oshara Tradition people lived from 5500 BCE to 600 CE. They were part of the Southwestern Archaic Tradition centered in north-central New Mexico, the San Juan Basin, the Rio Grande Valley, southern Colorado, and southeastern Utah.
Post-Archaic stage Edit
The Post-Archaic stage includes the Formative, Classic and Post-Classic stages in Willey and Phillipp's scheme. The Formative stage lasted from 1000 BCE until about 500 CE , the Classic from about 500 CE to 1200 CE , while the Post-Classic refers to 1200 CE until the present day. It also includes the Woodland period of North American pre-Columbian, whose culture refers to the time period from roughly 1000 BCE to 1000 CE in the eastern part of North America.
The term "Woodland" was coined in the 1930s and refers to prehistoric sites dated between the Archaic period and the Mississippian cultures. The Adena culture was a Native American culture that existed from 1000 BCE to 200 BCE, in a time known as the Early Woodland period. The Adena culture refers to what was probably a number of related Native American societies sharing a burial complex and ceremonial system.
The Hopewell tradition is the term for the common aspects of the Woodland period culture that flourished along rivers in the Eastern Woodlands from 200 BCE to 500 CE .  The Hopewell tradition was not a single culture or society, but a widely dispersed set of related populations, who were connected by a common network of trade routes,  known as the Hopewell Exchange System. At its greatest extent, the Hopewell exchange system ran from the Southeastern Woodlands into the northern shores of Lake Ontario. Within this area, societies participated in a high degree of exchange most activities was conducted along the waterways that served as their major transportation routes. The Hopewell exchange system traded materials from all over North America.
The Coles Creek culture was an indigenous development of the Lower Mississippi Valley that took place between the late Woodland period and the later Plaquemine culture period. The period is marked by the increased use of flat-topped platform mounds arranged around central plazas, more complex political institutions, and a subsistence strategy still grounded in the Eastern Agricultural Complex and hunting rather than on the maize plant as would happen in the succeeding Plaquemine Mississippian period. The culture was originally defined by the unique decoration on grog-tempered ceramic ware by James A. Ford after his investigations at the Mazique Archeological Site. He had studied both the Mazique and Coles Creek Sites, and almost went with the Mazique culture, but decided on the less historically involved sites name. It is ancestral to the Plaquemine culture.
The Mississippian culture which extended throughout the Ohio and Mississippi valleys and built sites throughout the Southeast created the largest earthworks in North America north of Mexico, most notably at Cahokia, on a tributary of the Mississippi River in present-day Illinois.
- The ten-story Monks Mound at Cahokia has a larger perimeter than the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, and roughly the same as the Great Pyramid of Egypt. The 6 square miles (16 km 2 ) city complex was based on the culture's cosmology it included more than 100 mounds, positioned to support their sophisticated knowledge of astronomy, and built with knowledge of varying soil types. The society began building at this site about 950 CE, and reached its peak population in 1,250 CE of 20,000–30,000 people, which was not equalled by any city in the present-day United States until after 1800.
- Cahokia was a major regional chiefdom, with trade and tributary chiefdoms located in a range of areas from bordering the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.  c. 1050–1400 CE,  is one of the largest settlements of the Mississippian culture, it was located at the southern tip of present-day U.S. state of Illinois. Kincaid Mounds has been notable for both its significant role in native North American prehistory and for the central role the site has played in the development of modern archaeological techniques. The site had at least 11 substructure platform mounds (ranking fifth for mound-culture pyramids). Artifacts from the settlement link its major habitation and the construction of the mounds to the Mississippian period, but it was also occupied earlier during the Woodland period. (9BR1) are a 54-acre (220,000 m 2 ) archaeological site in Bartow County, Georgia south of Cartersville, in the United States. Built and occupied in three phases, from 1000–1550 CE , the prehistoric site is on the north shore of the Etowah River.
- The Mississippian culture developed the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex, the name which archeologists have given to the regional stylistic similarity of artifacts, iconography, ceremonies and mythology. The rise of the complex culture was based on the people's adoption of maize agriculture, development of greater population densities, and chiefdom-level complex social organization from 1200 CE to 1650 CE . 
- The Mississippian pottery are some of the finest and most widely spread ceramics north of Mexico. Cahokian pottery was espically fine, with smooth surfaces, very thin walls and distinctive tempering, slips and coloring. 
Monks Mound of Cahokia (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in summer. The concrete staircase follows the approximate course of the ancient wooden stairs.
An artistic recreation of The Kincaid Site from the prehistoric Mississippian culture as it may have looked at its peak 1050–1400 CE .
Engraved stone palette from Moundville, illustrating two horned rattlesnakes, perhaps referring to The Great Serpent of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex.
A human head effigy pot from the Nodena Site.
The Hohokam culture was centered along American Southwest.  The early Hohokam founded a series of small villages along the middle Gila River. They raised corn, squash, and beans. The communities were near good arable land, with dry farming common in the earlier years of this period.  They were known for their pottery, using the paddle-and-anvil technique. The Classical period of the culture saw the rise in architecture and ceramics. Buildings were grouped into walled compounds, as well as earthen platform mounds. Platform mounds were built along river as well as irrigation canal systems, suggesting these sites were administrative centers allocating water and coordinating canal labor. Polychrome pottery appeared, and inhumation burial replaced cremation. The trade included that of shells and other exotics. Social and climatic factors led to a decline and abandonment of the area after 1400 CE .
The Ancestral Puebloan culture covered present-day Four Corners region of the United States, comprising southern Utah, northern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado.  It is believed that the Ancestral Puebloans developed, at least in part, from the Oshara Tradition, who developed from the Picosa culture. They lived in a range of structures that included small family pit houses, larger clan type structures, grand pueblos, and cliff sited dwellings. The Ancestral Puebloans possessed a complex network that stretched across the Colorado Plateau linking hundreds of communities and population centers. The culture is perhaps best known for the stone and earth dwellings built along cliff walls, particularly during the Pueblo II and Pueblo III eras.
- Three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States are credited to the Pueblos: Mesa Verde National Park, Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Taos Pueblo.
- The best-preserved examples of the stone dwellings are in National Parks (US), examples being, Navajo National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Aztec Ruins National Monument, Bandelier National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, and Canyon de Chelly National Monument.
Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an Ancient Pueblo belonging to a Native American tribe of Pueblo people, marking the cultural development in the region during the Pre-Columbian era.
The Iroquois League of Nations or "People of the Long House", based in present-day upstate and western New York, had a confederacy model from the mid-15th century. It has been suggested that their culture contributed to political thinking during the development of the later United States government. Their system of affiliation was a kind of federation, different from the strong, centralized European monarchies.  
- Long-distance trading did not prevent warfare and displacement among the indigenous peoples, and their oral histories tell of numerous migrations to the historic territories where Europeans encountered them. The Iroquois invaded and attacked tribes in the Ohio River area of present-day Kentucky and claimed the hunting grounds. Historians have placed these events as occurring as early as the 13th century, or in the 17th century Beaver Wars. 
- Through warfare, the Iroquois drove several tribes to migrate west to what became known as their historically traditional lands west of the Mississippi River. Tribes originating in the Ohio Valley who moved west included the Osage, Kaw, Ponca and Omaha people. By the mid-17th century, they had resettled in their historical lands in present-day Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The Osage warred with Caddo-speaking Native Americans, displacing them in turn by the mid-18th century and dominating their new historical territories. 
After 1492 European exploration and colonization of the Americas revolutionized how the Old and New Worlds perceived themselves. One of the first major contacts, in what would be called the American Deep South, occurred when the conquistador Juan Ponce de León landed in La Florida in April 1513. He was later followed by other Spanish explorers, such as Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528 and Hernando de Soto in 1539. The subsequent European colonists in North America often rationalized their expansion of empire with the assumption that they were saving a barbaric, pagan world by spreading Christian civilization. 
In the Spanish colonization of the Americas, the policy of Indian Reductions resulted in the forced conversions to Catholicism of the indigenous people in northern Nueva España. They had long-established spiritual and religious traditions and theological beliefs. What developed during the colonial years and since has been a syncretic Catholicism that absorbed and reflected indigenous beliefs the religion changed in New Spain.
Impact on native populations Edit
From the 16th through the 19th centuries, the population of Native Americans declined in the following ways: epidemic diseases brought from Europe violence and warfare  at the hands of European explorers and colonists, as well as between tribes displacement from their lands internal warfare,  enslavement and a high rate of intermarriage.   Most mainstream scholars believe that, among the various contributing factors, epidemic disease was the overwhelming cause of the population decline of the American natives because of their lack of immunity to new diseases brought from Europe.    With the rapid declines of some populations and continuing rivalries among their nations, Native Americans sometimes re-organized to form new cultural groups, such as the Seminoles of Florida in the 19th century and the Mission Indians of Alta California. Some scholars characterize the treatment of Native Americans by the US as genocide or genocidal whilst others dispute this characterization.   
Estimating the number of Native Americans living in what is today the United States of America before the arrival of the European explorers and settlers has been the subject of much debate. While it is difficult to determine exactly how many Natives lived in North America before Columbus,  estimates range from a low of 2.1 million (Ubelaker 1976) to 7 million people (Russell Thornton) to a high of 18 million (Dobyns 1983).  A low estimate of around 1 million was first posited by the anthropologist James Mooney in the 1890s, by calculating population density of each culture area based on its carrying capacity. In 1965, the American anthropologist Henry F. Dobyns published studies estimating the original population to have been 10 to 12 million. By 1983, he increased his estimates to 18 million.    Historian David Henige criticized higher estimates such as those of Dobyns', writing that many population figures are the result of arbitrary formulas selectively applied to numbers from unreliable historical sources.  By 1800, the Native population of the present-day United States had declined to approximately 600,000, and only 250,000 Native Americans remained in the 1890s. 
Chicken pox and measles, endemic but rarely fatal among Europeans (long after being introduced from Asia), often proved deadly to Native Americans. Smallpox epidemics often immediately followed European exploration and sometimes destroyed entire village populations. While precise figures are difficult to determine, some historians estimate that at least 30% (and sometimes 50% to 70%) of some Native populations died after first contact due to Eurasian smallpox.   One element of the Columbian exchange suggests explorers from the Christopher Columbus expedition contracted syphilis from indigenous peoples and carried it back to Europe, where it spread widely.  Other researchers believe that the disease existed in Europe and Asia before Columbus and his men returned from exposure to indigenous peoples of the Americas, but that they brought back a more virulent form.
In the 100 years following the arrival of the Spanish to the Americas, large disease epidemics depopulated large parts of the Eastern Woodlands in the 15th century.  In 1618–1619, smallpox killed 90% of the Native Americans in the area of the Massachusetts Bay.  Historians believe many Mohawk in present-day New York became infected after contact with children of Dutch traders in Albany in 1634. The disease swept through Mohawk villages, reaching the Onondaga at Lake Ontario by 1636, and the lands of the western Iroquois by 1679, as it was carried by Mohawk and other Native Americans who traveled the trading routes.  The high rate of fatalities caused breakdowns in Native American societies and disrupted generational exchange of culture.
After European explorers reached the West Coast in the 1770s, smallpox rapidly killed at least 30% of Northwest Coast Native Americans. For the next 80 to 100 years, smallpox and other diseases devastated native populations in the region.  Puget Sound area populations, once estimated as high as 37,000 people, were reduced to only 9,000 survivors by the time settlers arrived en masse in the mid-19th century.  The Spanish missions in California did not have a large effect on the overall population of Native Americans because the small number of missions was concentrated in a small area along the southern and central coast. The numbers of indigenes decreased more rapidly after California ceased to be a Spanish colony, especially during the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th (see chart on the right).
Smallpox epidemics in 1780–1782 and 1837–1838 brought devastation and drastic depopulation among the Plains Indians.   By 1832, the federal government established a smallpox vaccination program for Native Americans (The Indian Vaccination Act of 1832). It was the first federal program created to address a health problem of Native Americans.  
Animal introductions Edit
With the meeting of two worlds, animals, insects, and plants were carried from one to the other, both deliberately and by chance, in what is called the Columbian Exchange. Sheep, pigs, horses, and cattle were all Old World animals that were introduced to contemporary Native Americans who never knew such animals. 
In the 16th century, Spaniards and other Europeans brought horses to Mexico. Some of the horses escaped and began to breed and increase their numbers in the wild. The early American horse had been game for the earliest humans on the continent. It was hunted to extinction about 7000 BCE, just after the end of the last glacial period. [ citation needed ] Native Americans benefited from the reintroduction of horses, as they adopted the use of the animals, they began to change their cultures in substantial ways, especially by extending their nomadic ranges for hunting.
The reintroduction of the horse to North America had a profound impact on Native American culture of the Great Plains. The tribes trained and used horses to ride and to carry packs or pull travois. The people fully incorporated the use of horses into their societies and expanded their territories. They used horses to carry goods for exchange with neighboring tribes, to hunt game, especially bison, and to conduct wars and horse raids.
The 16th century saw the first contacts between Native Americans in what was to become the United States and European explorers and settlers.
One of the first major contacts, in what would be called the American Deep South, occurred when the conquistador Juan Ponce de León landed in La Florida in April 1513. There he encountered the Timucuan and Ais peoples.  De León returned in 1521 in an attempt at colonization, but after fierce resistance from the Calusa people, the attempt was abandoned. He was later followed by other Spanish explorers, such as Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528 and Hernando de Soto in 1539.
In 1536 a group of four Spanish explorers and one enslaved black Moorish man, found themselves stranded on the coast of what is now Texas.  The group was led by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, and for a time they were held in semi captivity by the coastal natives.  The enslaved Moor, whose name was Esterban, later became a scout who had encounters with the Zunis.  Rumors of the fabled Seven Cities of Gold being located in the northern area of New Spain began to emerge amongst the Spaniards. And in 1540 Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, using the information gained by the scouting expeditions of Esterban and Fray Marcos, set out to conquer Cíbola.  Coronado and his band of over one thousand found no cities of gold. What the conquistadors did encounter was Hawikuh, a Zuni town. There the Zuni people, having never seen horses or a band of this size before, were frightened. Although Coronado had been explicitly instructed not to harm the natives, when the Zuni refused his insistence for food and supplies, Coronado ordered an attack on the town. 
Through the mid 17th century the Beaver Wars were fought over the fur trade between the Iroquois and the Hurons, the northern Algonquians, and their French allies. During the war the Iroquois destroyed several large tribal confederacies—including the Huron, Neutral, Erie, Susquehannock, and Shawnee, and became dominant in the region and enlarged their territory.
King Philip's War Edit
King Philip's War, also called Metacom's War or Metacom's Rebellion, was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day southern New England and English colonists and their Native American allies from 1675 to 1676. It continued in northern New England (primarily on the Maine frontier) even after King Philip was killed, until a treaty was signed at Casco Bay in April 1678. [ citation needed ] According to a combined estimate of loss of life in Schultz and Tougias' King Philip's War, The History and Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict (based on sources from the Department of Defense, the Bureau of Census, and the work of Colonial historian Francis Jennings), 800 out of 52,000 English colonists of New England (1 out of every 65) and 3,000 out of 20,000 natives (3 out of every 20) lost their lives due to the war, which makes it proportionately one of the bloodiest and costliest in the history of America. [ citation needed ] More than half of New England's 90 towns were assaulted by Native American warriors. One in ten soldiers on both sides were wounded or killed. 
The war is named after the main leader of the Native American side, Metacomet (also known as Metacom or Pometacom) who was known to the English as King Philip. He was the last Massasoit (Great Leader) of the Pokanoket Tribe/Pokanoket Federation and Wampanoag Nation. Upon their loss to the Colonists, many managed to flee to the North to continue their fight against the British (Massachusetts Bay Colony) by joining with the Abenaki Tribes and Wabanaki Federation. [ citation needed ]
Between 1754 and 1763, many Native American tribes were involved in the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War. Those involved in the fur trade in the northern areas tended to ally with French forces against British colonial militias. Native Americans fought on both sides of the conflict. The greater number of tribes fought with the French in the hopes of checking British expansion. The British had made fewer allies, but it was joined by some tribes that wanted to prove assimilation and loyalty in support of treaties to preserve their territories. They were often disappointed when such treaties were later overturned. The tribes had their own purposes, using their alliances with the European powers to battle traditional Native enemies.
Native American influence Edit
Native American culture began to have an influence on European thought in this period. Some Europeans considered Native American societies to be representative of a golden age known to them only in folk history.  The political theorist Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote that the idea of freedom and democratic ideals was born in the Americas because "it was only in America" that Europeans from 1500 to 1776 knew of societies that were "truly free." 
Natural freedom is the only object of the policy of the [Native Americans] with this freedom do nature and climate rule alone amongst them . [Native Americans] maintain their freedom and find abundant nourishment. [and are] people who live without laws, without police, without religion.
In the 20th century, some writers have credited the Iroquois nations' political confederacy and democratic government as being influences for the development of the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution.   In October 1988, the U.S. Congress passed Concurrent Resolution 331 to recognize the influence of the Iroquois Constitution upon the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. 
However, leading historians of the period note that historic evidence is lacking to support such an interpretation. Gordon Wood wrote, "The English colonists did not need the Indians to tell them about federalism or self-government. The New England Confederation was organized as early as 1643."  The historian Jack Rakove, a specialist in early American history, in 2005 noted that the voluminous documentation of the Constitutional proceedings "contain no significant reference to Iroquois."  Secondly, he notes: "All the key political concepts that were the stuff of American political discourse before the Revolution and after, had obvious European antecedents and referents: bicameralism, separation of powers, confederations, and the like." 
American Indians have played a central role in shaping the history of the nation, and they are deeply woven into the social fabric of much of American life. During the last three decades of the 20th century, scholars of ethnohistory, of the "new Indian history," and of Native American studies forcefully demonstrated that to understand American history and the American experience, one must include American Indians.
American Revolution Edit
During the American Revolution, the newly proclaimed United States competed with the British for the allegiance of Native American nations east of the Mississippi River. Most Native Americans who joined the struggle sided with the British, based both on their trading relationships and hopes that colonial defeat would result in a halt to further colonial expansion onto Native American land. Many native communities were divided over which side to support in the war and others wanted to remain neutral. Seeking out treaties with the Indigenous inhabitants soon became a very pressing matter. It was during the American Revolution that the newly forming United States would sign its first treaty as a nation with the Indigenous inhabitants. In a bid to gain ground near the British stronghold of Detroit the Continental Congress reached out to the Leni Lenape, also known as the Delawares, to form an alliance. Understanding a treaty would be the best way to secure this alliance, in 1778 The Treaty with The Delawares was signed by representatives from the Congress and the Lenape.  For the Iroquois Confederacy, based in New York, the American Revolution resulted in civil war. The only Iroquois tribes to ally with the colonials were the Oneida and Tuscarora.
Frontier warfare during the American Revolution was particularly brutal, and numerous atrocities were committed by settlers. Noncombatants suffered greatly during the war. Military expeditions on each side destroyed villages and food supplies to reduce the ability of people to fight, as in frequent raids by both sides in the Mohawk Valley and western New York.  The largest of these expeditions was the Sullivan Expedition of 1779, in which American colonial troops destroyed more than 40 Iroquois villages to neutralize Iroquois raids in upstate New York. The expedition failed to have the desired effect: Native American activity became even more determined.
The British made peace with the Americans in the Treaty of Paris (1783), through which they ceded vast Native American territories to the United States without informing or consulting with the Native Americans. Within the Peace Treaty of Paris of 1783, no mention of Indigenous peoples or their rights were made.  The United States initially treated the Native Americans who had fought as allies with the British as a conquered people who had lost their lands. Although most members of the Iroquois tribes went to Canada with the Loyalists, others tried to stay in New York and western territories to maintain their lands. The state of New York made a separate treaty with Iroquois nations and put up for sale 5,000,000 acres (20,000 km 2 ) of land that had previously been their territories. The state established small reservations in western New York for the remnant peoples.
The Indians presented a reverse image of European civilization which helped America establish a national identity that was neither savage nor civilized.
After the formation of the United States Edit
The United States was eager to expand, to develop farming and settlements in new areas, and to satisfy land hunger of settlers from New England and new immigrants. The belief and inaccurate presumption was that the land was not settled and existed in a state of nature and therefore was free to be settled by citizens of the newly formed United States.  In the years after the American Revolution, the newly formed nation set about acquiring lands in the Northwest Territory through a multitude of treaties with Native nations. The coercive tactics used to obtain these treaties often left the Native Nations with the option to sell the land or face war.  The states and settlers were frequently at odds with this policy.  Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, which was conceived to allow for the United States to sell lands inhabited by the Native nations to settlers willing to move into that area. 
During this time, what came to be called The Northwest Indian War also began, led by the Native nations of the Ohio country trying to repulse American settlers and halt the seizure of land by the Continental Congress. Leaders such as Little Turtle and Blue Jacket lead the allied tribes of the Miamis and Shawnees,  who were among the tribes that had been disregarded during the signing of the Peace Treaty of Paris. 
European nations sent Native Americans (sometimes against their will) to the Old World as objects of curiosity. They often entertained royalty and were sometimes prey to commercial purposes. Christianization of Native Americans was a charted purpose for some European colonies.
Whereas it hath at this time become peculiarly necessary to warn the citizens of the United States against a violation of the treaties. I do by these presents require, all officers of the United States, as well civil as military, and all other citizens and inhabitants thereof, to govern themselves according to the treaties and act aforesaid, as they will answer the contrary at their peril.
United States policy toward Native Americans had continued to evolve after the American Revolution. George Washington and Henry Knox believed that Native Americans were equals but that their society was inferior. Washington formulated a policy to encourage the "civilizing" process.  Washington had a six-point plan for civilization which included:
- impartial justice toward Native Americans
- regulated buying of Native American lands
- promotion of commerce
- promotion of experiments to civilize or improve Native American society
- presidential authority to give presents
- punishing those who violated Native American rights. 
Robert Remini, a historian, wrote that "once the Indians adopted the practice of private property, built homes, farmed, educated their children, and embraced Christianity, these Native Americans would win acceptance from white Americans."  The United States appointed agents, like Benjamin Hawkins, to live among the Native Americans and to teach them how to live like whites. 
How different would be the sensation of a philosophic mind to reflect that instead of exterminating a part of the human race by our modes of population that we had persevered through all difficulties and at last had imparted our Knowledge of cultivating and the arts, to the Aboriginals of the Country by which the source of future life and happiness had been preserved and extended. But it has been conceived to be impracticable to civilize the Indians of North America — This opinion is probably more convenient than just.
In the late 18th century, reformers starting with Washington and Knox,  supported educating native children and adults, in efforts to "civilize" or otherwise assimilate Native Americans to the larger society (as opposed to relegating them to reservations). The Civilization Fund Act of 1819 promoted this civilization policy by providing funding to societies (mostly religious) who worked on Native American improvement.
I rejoice, brothers, to hear you propose to become cultivators of the earth for the maintenance of your families. Be assured you will support them better and with less labor, by raising stock and bread, and by spinning and weaving clothes, than by hunting. A little land cultivated, and a little labor, will procure more provisions than the most successful hunt and a woman will clothe more by spinning and weaving, than a man by hunting. Compared with you, we are but as of yesterday in this land. Yet see how much more we have multiplied by industry, and the exercise of that reason which you possess in common with us. Follow then our example, brethren, and we will aid you with great pleasure.
The end of the 18th century also saw the revival of spirituality among the Iroquois society and other nations of the eastern seaboard. After years of war and uncertainty, despair and demoralization led some within these communities to turn to alcohol.  In 1799, the Seneca warrior Handsome Lake, who suffered from depression and alcoholism himself, received a spiritual vision.  This vision led Handsome Lake to travel among the Seneca as a religious prophet. He preached about a revival of the traditional ceremonies of the Haudenosaunee nations and a renouncement of drinking.  This movement, which also carried some elements of Christianity, came to be known as Gaiwiio, or Good Word. 
As American expansion continued, Native Americans resisted settlers' encroachment in several regions of the new nation (and in unorganized territories), from the Northwest to the Southeast, and then in the West, as settlers encountered the tribes of the Great Plains.
East of the Mississippi River, an intertribal army led by Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief and noted orator,  fought a number of engagements in the Northwest during the period 1811–12, known as Tecumseh's War. In the latter stages, Tecumseh's group allied with the British forces in the War of 1812 and was instrumental in the conquest of Detroit. Conflicts in the Southeast include the Creek War and Seminole Wars, both before and after the Indian Removals of most members of the Five Civilized Tribes beginning in the 1830s under President Andrew Jackson's policies.
Native American nations on the plains in the west engaged in armed conflicts with the United States throughout the 19th century, through what were called generally "Indian Wars." The Battle of Little Bighorn (1876) was one of the greatest Native American victories. Defeats included the Sioux Uprising of 1862,  the Sand Creek Massacre (1864) and Wounded Knee in 1890.  Indian Wars continued into the early 20th century.
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1894),
"The Indian wars under the government of the United States have been more than 40 in number. They have cost the lives of about 19,000 white men, women and children, including those killed in individual combats, and the lives of about 30,000 Indians. The actual number of killed and wounded Indians must be very much higher than the given. Fifty percent additional would be a safe estimate. " 
American expansion Edit
In July 1845, the New York newspaper editor John L. O’Sullivan coined the phrase, "Manifest Destiny," as the "design of Providence" supporting the territorial expansion of the United States.  Manifest Destiny had serious consequences for Native Americans, since continental expansion for the United States took place at the cost of their occupied land. Manifest Destiny was a justification for expansion and westward movement, or, in some interpretations, an ideology or doctrine that helped to promote the progress of civilization. Advocates of Manifest Destiny believed that expansion was not only good, but that it was obvious and certain. The term was first used primarily by Jacksonian Democrats in the 1840s to promote the annexation of much of what is now the Western United States (the Oregon Territory, the Texas Annexation, and the Mexican Cession).
What a prodigious growth this English race, especially the American branch of it, is having! How soon will it subdue and occupy all the wild parts of this continent and of the islands adjacent. No prophecy, however seemingly extravagant, as to future achievements in this way [is] likely to equal the reality.
In 1851, delegates from the federal government and upwards of ten thousand Indigenous peoples, consisting of various Plains tribes including the Sioux, Cheyenne and Crow among many others, assembled. They gathered for the purpose of signing the Treaty of Fort Laramie which would set the definitive boundaries of the tribal territories, and tribes were to agree to leave travelers through the territory unharmed.  In 1853 members of the tribes from the southern Plains such as the Comanches, Kiowas, and Kiowa Apaches signed treaties similar to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. 
In the years following the 1851 treaty, tracks were laid for the Union Pacific Railroad and gold was discovered in Montana and Colorado.  These factors amongst others led to increased traffic through tribal land which in turn disrupted the game animals that were necessary for the Plains’ nations survival.  Conflicts between the U.S. Army, settlers and Native Americans continued, however in 1864 after the massacre of a Cheyenne village along the banks of Sand Cheek, war between the U.S and the tribes of the Great Plains was inevitable. 
After a decade of wars between the U.S and the tribes of the Great Plains, including Red Cloud's War in 1866, the federal government again called for a treaty. In 1868 the Peace Treaty of Fort Laramie was signed, with one of the terms of the treaty being that the Sioux would settle on the Black hills Reservation in Dakota Territory. 
In 1874 gold was discovered within the Black Hills, land which is to this day most sacred to the Sioux. The Black Hills were at this time also the center of the Sioux Nation, the federal government offered six million dollars for the land, however Sioux leaders refused to sell. (In the Hands) By 1877 the Black Hills were confiscated, and the land that had once been the Sioux Nation was further divided into six smaller reservations. 
The age of Manifest Destiny, which came to be associated with extinguishing American Indian territorial claims and moving them to reservations, gained ground as the United States population explored and settled west of the Mississippi River. Although Indian Removal from the Southeast had been proposed by some as a humanitarian measure to ensure their survival away from Americans, conflicts of the 19th century led some European-Americans to regard the natives as "savages".
The period of the Gold Rush was marked by the California Genocide. Under US sovereignty, the indigenous population plunged from approximately 150,000 in 1848 to 30,000 in 1870 and reached its nadir of 16,000 in 1900. Thousands of California Native Americans, including women and children, are documented to have been killed by non-Native Americans in this period. The dispossession and murder of California Native Americans was aided by institutions of the state of California, which encouraged indigenous peoples to be killed with impunity.  
Civil War Edit
Many Native Americans served in the military during the Civil War, on both sides.  By fighting with the whites, Native Americans hoped to gain favor with the prevailing government by supporting the war effort.  
General Ely S. Parker, a member of the Seneca tribe, transcribed the terms of the articles of surrender which General Robert E. Lee signed at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Gen. Parker, who served as Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's military secretary and was a trained attorney, was once rejected for Union military service because of his race. At Appomattox, Lee is said to have remarked to Parker, "I am glad to see one real American here," to which Parker replied, "We are all Americans."  General Stand Watie, a leader of the Cherokee Nation and Confederate Indian cavalry commander, was the last Confederate General to surrender his troops. 
Removals and reservations Edit
In the 19th century, the incessant westward expansion of the United States incrementally compelled large numbers of Native Americans to resettle further west, often by force, almost always reluctantly. Native Americans believed this forced relocation illegal, given the Hopewell Treaty of 1785. Under President Andrew Jackson, United States Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which authorized the President to conduct treaties to exchange Native American land east of the Mississippi River for lands west of the river.
As many as 100,000 Native Americans relocated to the West as a result of this Indian Removal policy. In theory, relocation was supposed to be voluntary and many Native Americans did remain in the East. In practice, great pressure was put on Native American leaders to sign removal treaties.
The most egregious violation of the stated intention of the removal policy took place under the Treaty of New Echota, which was signed by a dissident faction of Cherokees but not the principal chief. The following year, the Cherokee conceded to removal, but Georgia included their land in a lottery for European-American settlement before that. President Jackson used the military to gather and transport the Cherokee to the west, whose timing and lack of adequate supplies led to the deaths of an estimated 4,000 Cherokees on the Trail of Tears. About 17,000 Cherokees, along with approximately 2,000 enslaved blacks held by Cherokees, were taken by force migration to Indian Territory. 
Tribes were generally located to reservations where they could more easily be separated from traditional life and pushed into European-American society. Some southern states additionally enacted laws in the 19th century forbidding non-Native American settlement on Native American lands, with the intention to prevent sympathetic white missionaries from aiding the scattered Native American resistance. 
Native Americans and U.S. citizenship Edit
In 1817, the Cherokee became the first Native Americans recognized as U.S. citizens. Under Article 8 of the 1817 Cherokee treaty, "Upwards of 300 Cherokees (Heads of Families) in the honest simplicity of their souls, made an election to become American citizens."   The next earliest recorded date of Native Americans' becoming U.S. citizens was in 1831, when some Mississippi Choctaw became citizens after the United States Congress ratified the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.    
Article 22 sought to put a Choctaw representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Under article XIV of that treaty, any Choctaw who elected not to move with the Choctaw Nation could become an American citizen when he registered and if he stayed on designated lands for five years after treaty ratification. Through the years, Native Americans became U.S. citizens by:
1. Treaty provision (as with the Cherokee)
2. Registration and land allotment under the Dawes Act of February 8, 1887
3. Issuance of Patent in Fee simple
4. Adopting Habits of Civilized Life
5. Minor Children
6. Citizenship by Birth
7. Becoming Soldiers and Sailors in the U.S. Armed Forces
8. Marriage to a U.S. citizen
9. Special Act of Congress.
In 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney expressed the opinion of the court that since Native Americans were "free and independent people," they could become U.S. citizens.   Taney asserted that Native Americans could be naturalized and join the "political community" of the United States. 
[Native Americans], without doubt, like the subjects of any other foreign Government, be naturalized by the authority of Congress, and become citizens of a State, and of the United States and if an individual should leave his nation or tribe, and take up his abode among the white population, he would be entitled to all the rights and privileges which would belong to an emigrant from any other foreign people.
After the American Civil War, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 states, "that all persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States".  This was affirmed by the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. But the concept of Native Americans as U.S. citizens fell out of favor among politicians at the time. Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan commented, “I am not yet prepared to pass a sweeping act of naturalization by which all the Indian savages, wild or tame, belonging to a tribal relation, are to become my fellow-citizens and go to the polls and vote with me". (Congressional Globe, 1866, 2895)  In a Senate floor debate regarding the Fourteenth Amendment, James Rood Doolittle of Wisconsin stated, " . all those wild Indians to be citizens of the United States, the Great Republic of the world, whose citizenship should be a title as proud as that of king, and whose danger is that you may degrade that citizenship (Congressional Globe, 1866, 2892)." 
Indian Appropriations Act of 1871 Edit
In 1871 Congress added a rider to the Indian Appropriations Act ending United States recognition of additional Native American tribes or independent nations, and prohibiting additional treaties.
That hereafter no Indian nation or tribe within the territory of the United States shall be acknowledged or recognized as an independent nation, tribe, or power with whom the United States may contract by treaty: Provided, further, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to invalidate or impair the obligation of any treaty heretofore lawfully made and ratified with any such Indian nation or tribe.
Education and boarding schools Edit
After the Indian wars in the late 19th century, the United States established Native American boarding schools, initially run primarily by or affiliated with Christian missionaries.  At this time American society thought that Native American children needed to be acculturated to the general society. The boarding school experience often proved traumatic to Native American children, who were forbidden to speak their native languages, taught Christianity and denied the right to practice their native religions, and in numerous other ways forced to abandon their Native American identities  and adopt European-American culture.
Since the late 20th century, investigations have documented cases of sexual, physical and mental abuse occurring at such schools.   While problems were documented as early as the 1920s, some of the schools continued into the 1960s. Since the rise of self-determination for Native Americans, they have generally emphasized education of their children at schools near where they live. In addition, many federally recognized tribes have taken over operations of such schools and added programs of language retention and revival to strengthen their cultures. Beginning in the 1970s, tribes have also founded colleges at their reservations, controlled and operated by Native Americans, to educate their young for jobs as well as to pass on their cultures.
On August 29, 1911 Ishi, generally considered to have been the last Native American to live most of his life without contact with European-American culture, was discovered near Oroville, California after a forest fire drove him from nearby mountains. He was the last of his tribe, the rest having been massacred by a party of White "Indian fighters" in 1865 when he was a boy. After being jailed in protective custody, Ishi was released to anthropologists led by Alfred L. Kroeber at the University of California. They studied his Southern Yahi language and culture, and provided him a home until his death from tuberculosis five years later.   
On June 2, 1924 U.S. Republican President Calvin Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act, which made citizens of the United States of all Native Americans born in the United States and its territories and who were not already citizens. Prior to passage of the act, nearly two-thirds of Native Americans were already U.S. citizens. 
American Indians today have all the rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, can vote in elections, and run for political office. There has been controversy over how much the federal government has jurisdiction over tribal affairs, sovereignty, and cultural practices. 
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all noncitizen Native Americans born within the territorial limits of the United States be, and they are hereby, declared to be citizens of the United States: Provided, That the granting of such citizenship shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of any Native American to tribal or other property.
World War II Edit
Some 44,000 Native Americans served in the United States military during World War II: at the time, one-third of all able-bodied Indian men from 18 to 50 years of age.  The entry of young men into the United States military during World War II has been described as the first large-scale exodus of indigenous peoples from the reservations. It involved more people than any migration since the removals from areas east of the Mississippi River of the early 19th century.
The men's service with the US military in the international conflict was a turning point in Native American history. The overwhelming majority of Native Americans welcomed the opportunity to serve they had a voluntary enlistment rate that was 40% higher than those who were drafted. War Department officials said that if the entire population had enlisted in the same proportion as the Native Americans, the response would have rendered the draft unnecessary. 
Their fellow soldiers often held them in high esteem, in part since the legend of the tough Native American warrior had become a part of the fabric of American historical legend. White servicemen sometimes showed a lighthearted respect toward Native American comrades by calling them "chief". Native American cultures were profoundly changed after their young men returned home, because of their wide contact with the world outside of the reservation system. "The war", said the U.S. Indian Commissioner in 1945, "caused the greatest disruption of Native life since the beginning of the reservation era", affecting the habits, views, and economic well-being of tribal members. 
The most significant of these changes was the opportunity—as a result of wartime labor shortages—to find well-paying work in cities. After the war many Native Americans relocated to urban areas, particularly on the West Coast with the buildup of the defense industry. In the 1950s the federal government had a relocation policy encouraging them to do so because of economic opportunity in cities. But Native Americans struggled with discrimination and the great cultural changes in leaving their reservations behind.
There were also losses as a result of the war. For instance, a total of 1,200 Pueblo men served in World War II only about half came home alive. In addition many more Navajo served as Code talkers for the military in the Pacific. The code they made, although cryptologically very simple, was never cracked by the Japanese.
Military service and urban residency contributed to the rise of American Indian activism, particularly after the 1960s and the occupation of Alcatraz Island (1969–1971) by a student Indian group from San Francisco. In the same period, the American Indian Movement (AIM) was founded in Minneapolis, and chapters were established throughout the country, where American Indians combined spiritual and political activism. Political protests gained national media attention and the sympathy of the American public.
Through the mid-1970s, conflicts between governments and Native Americans occasionally erupted into violence. A notable late 20th-century event was the Wounded Knee incident on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Upset with tribal government and the failures of the federal government to enforce treaty rights, about 300 Oglala Lakota and American Indian Movement (AIM) activists took control of Wounded Knee on February 27, 1973. 
Indian activists from around the country joined them at Pine Ridge, and the occupation became a symbol of rising American Indian identity and power. Federal law enforcement officials and the national guard cordoned off the town, and the two sides had a standoff for 71 days. During much gunfire, one United States Marshal was wounded and paralyzed. In late April a Cherokee and local Lakota man were killed by gunfire the Lakota elders ended the occupation to ensure no more lives were lost. 
In June 1975, two FBI agents seeking to make an armed robbery arrest at Pine Ridge Reservation were wounded in a firefight, and killed at close range. The AIM activist Leonard Peltier was sentenced in 1976 to two consecutive terms of life in prison in the FBI deaths. 
In 1968 the government enacted the Indian Civil Rights Act. This gave tribal members most of the protections against abuses by tribal governments that the Bill of Rights accords to all U.S. citizens with respect to the federal government.  In 1975 the U.S. government passed the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, marking the culmination of 15 years of policy changes. It resulted from American Indian activism, the Civil Rights Movement, and community development aspects of President Lyndon Johnson's social programs of the 1960s. The Act recognized the right and need of Native Americans for self-determination. It marked the U.S. government's turn away from the 1950s policy of termination of the relationship between tribes and the government. The U.S. government encouraged Native Americans' efforts at self-government and determining their futures. Tribes have developed organizations to administer their own social, welfare and housing programs, for instance. Tribal self-determination has created tension with respect to the federal government's historic trust obligation to care for Indians, however, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has never lived up to that responsibility. 
By this time, tribes had already started to establish community schools to replace the BIA boarding schools. Led by the Navajo Nation in 1968, tribes started tribal colleges and universities, to build their own models of education on reservations, preserve and revive their cultures, and develop educated workforces. In 1994 the U.S. Congress passed legislation recognizing the tribal colleges as land-grant colleges, which provided opportunities for funding. Thirty-two tribal colleges in the United States belong to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. By the early 21st century, tribal nations had also established numerous language revival programs in their schools.
In addition, Native American activism has led major universities across the country to establish Native American studies programs and departments, increasing awareness of the strengths of Indian cultures, providing opportunities for academics, and deepening research on history and cultures in the United States. Native Americans have entered academia journalism and media politics at local, state and federal levels and public service, for instance, influencing medical research and policy to identify issues related to American Indians.
In 1981, Tim Giago founded the Lakota Times, an independent Native American newspaper, located at the Pine Ridge Reservation but not controlled by tribal government. He later founded the Native American Journalists Association. Other independent newspapers and media corporations have been developed, so that Native American journalists are contributing perspective on their own affairs and other policies and events.
In 2004 Senator Sam Brownback (Republican of Kansas) introduced a joint resolution (Senate Joint Resolution 37) to "offer an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United States" for past "ill-conceived policies" by the U.S. government regarding Indian Tribes.  President Barack Obama signed the historic apology into law in 2009, as Section 8113 of the 2010 defense appropriations bill. 
After years of investigation and independent work by Native American journalists, in 2003 the U.S. government indicted suspects in the December 1975 murder of Anna Mae Aquash at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. A Mi'kmaq, Aquash was the highest-ranking woman activist in the American Indian Movement (AIM) at the time. She was killed several months after two FBI agents had been killed at the reservation. Many Lakota believe that she was killed by AIM on suspicion of having been an FBI informant, but she never worked for the FBI.  Arlo Looking Cloud was convicted in federal court in 2004. In 2007 the United States extradited AIM activist John Graham from Canada to stand trial for her murder.  He was also convicted and sentenced to life.
The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 Edit
The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-644) is a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of American Indian or Alaska Native arts and crafts products within the United States, including dreamcatchers. It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced.
Native American tribes and individuals began to file suits against the federal government over a range of issues, especially land claims and mismanagement of trust lands and fees. A number of longstanding cases were finally settled by the administration of President Barack Obama, who made a commitment to improve relations between the federal government and the tribes. Among these was Cobell v. Salazar, a class action suit settled in 2009, with Congress appropriating funds in 2010.  Another was Keepseagle v. , settled in April 2011. The $760 million settlement "designated $680 million for Native American farmers who had faced discrimination from the U.S. Department of Agriculture over a period of several years in the past. 
By 2012, "the Justice and Interior departments had reached settlements totaling more than $1 billion with 41 tribes for claims of mismanagement."  The Navajo Nation gained the largest settlement with a single tribe, of $554 million.  It is the largest tribe in the United States.
In 2013 under renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, the federal government strengthened protection of Native American women, as it established authority for tribes to prosecute non-Natives who commit crimes on Indian land.  Domestic and sexual abuse of Native American women has been a problem in many areas, but previous laws prevented arrest or prosecution by tribal police or courts of non-native abusive partners.  
Native American migration to urban areas continued to grow: 70% of Native Americans lived in urban areas in 2012, up from 45% in 1970, and 8% in 1940. Urban areas with significant Native American populations include Rapid City, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Denver, Phoenix, Tucson, Seattle, Chicago, Houston, and New York City. Many have lived in poverty and struggled with discrimination. Racism, unemployment, drugs and gangs were common problems which Indian social service organizations, such as the Little Earth housing complex in Minneapolis, have attempted to address. 
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Colombian Exchange: The colonization by Europeans of the New World led to many changes. Worlds that had once been separated were now in contact with one another. This new contact led to a cultural exchange of plants, animals, diseases, and ideas called the Columbian Exchange. The Europeans benefited from Native Americans ideas and crops found in the New World. They discovered new foods such as tomatoes, corn, beans, squash, potatoes, turkeys, and chocolate. People in Europe benefited from a more varied and nutritious diet after bringing these food sources back home. The Native Americans also benefited from contact with Europeans. Europeans brought with them domestic animals like horses, cows, and pigs.
European presence in the New World had drawbacks, as well as benefits, for Native Americans. The biggest drawback was the introduction of diseases. Native Americans did not have immunities to the diseases that European settlers unknowingly brought with them to the New World. Another drawback was the gun. European settlers brought the newest weapons with them to the New World. They traded guns for food and other supplies.
Religion: One of the reasons Europeans came to the New World was to spread Christianity to the Native Americans. Spanish and French Catholics worked as missionaries. Their mission was to convert the natives to Christianity. The French were not able to change the Native American customs as much as the Spanish did. Some natives were open to the idea of Christianity. Others had the religion forced upon them.
Population Decline: When the Spanish first settled in the New World, they enslaved many Native Americans. They used Native Americans for farming and mining for gold and silver. Hard labor and malnutrition led to the deaths of many Native Americans. With European settlement came new diseases. These diseases hurt the Native American population. Native Americans did not have immunities to fight off these diseases. This led millions to die. Experts say that 50 percent to 90 percent of Native Americans died in the first few decades due to the arrival of the Europeans.
Land: Colonists and Native Americans occupied the same lands. This caused them to compete for places to settle and grow. They hunted in the same forests and fished in the same streams. This led to a depletion of animals available for food. The demand for agricultural products led many settlers in the British colonies to clear forests to make room to plant. This depleted Native American hunting grounds, forcing them to move to land west of the Appalachian Mountains. Many Native American tribes attempted to rebel against the growing colonies. However, the Native Americans were no match against colonial weapons and the British army. Another result of moving west was conflicts between tribes. Most Native American tribes were independent of one another. They had their own traditions and language. When forced to be on the same land, cultural differences between tribes led to war.
Peaceful coexistence: Native Americans and Europeans benefited from the trade of goods and knowledge. European settlers learned from the Native Americans how to grow American crops. They learned where to hunt as well as how to survive. Native Americans learned about new tools, weapons, animals, and farming methods from the settlers. There are many examples of peaceful coexistence between Native Americans and the colonists, one of the most famous being the first Thanksgiving. Without assistance from the natives, the Pilgrims may not have survived.
Early modern human tools found in the Negev support theory of exit from Africa via Arabia
Israeli archaeologist identifies battlefield where Crusaders defeated Saladin
How volcanoes and plague killed the Byzantine wine industry in Israel
Despite their differences, both the North America and Arabian techniques can fairly be called fluting, argue Crassard, Michael Petraglia from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, and archaeologists and anthropologists from France, the United States, Australia and Kuwait in the Plos One paper.
The fluted American tools, at least the original Clovis ones, seem to have served as spear points and were probably used to kill the last mammoths and other toothsome megafauna.
The actual Clovis culture lasted only around 500 to 1,000 years it was followed by the Folsom, Cumberland, Barnes and other North America cultures which also arose and passed on quite rapidly. Altogether these early groups lasted perhaps some 3,000 years. Possibly their rapid rise and fall had to do with difficulty transiting from being colonizers of unoccupied space &ndash requiring new adaptations and behaviors &ndash to being settlers, suggests anthropologist Dr. Metin Eren of Kent State University, a Clovis expert who was not involved in the Arabian research.
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More to the point, the original Clovis-culture inventors of fluting may have passed it on to their immediate descendants, who passed it on, et cetera. Or, given the differences between fluting patterns in paleo-North America &ndash perhaps the technology emerged more than once just in the context of the New World, as well as in Arabia some millennia after the Clovis and post-Clovis cultures had disappeared, says Eren.
He warmly applauds the discussion in the new paper by Cressard et al of convergent evolution in the case of the North American and Arabian fluted tools.
&ldquoIn just the last couple of years we have learned that convergence in stone tools is so much more common than we thought,&rdquo Eren tells Haaretz: &ldquoFor production reasons and mechanical reasons and physical reasons and functional reasons, people were reinventing the tools over and over again throughout the entire Stone Age and after. We&rsquore all the same species and all pretty smart and come to the same solutions when facing similar problems.&rdquo
Examples of convergence beyond fluted tools include the Levallois knapping technique named for a site in France, which emerged in the Old World perhaps as long as half a million years ago &ndash and seems to have been rebirthed in Clovis tools, despite separation by continents and several hundred thousand years. Completely different people were performing the same technique in vastly different times and places. Actually, fluting could be seen as a subset of Levallois, Eren suggests. &ldquoWhat to do to achieve a successful flute is very similar to what do to get a successful Levallois flake,&rdquo he says.
Other examples of convergence in tool technology include serrating on the edges of stone knives and similar types of hide scraping tools, Eren adds.
No question about it, fluting is a huge pain and has been estimated to result in the breakage of one out of every four or five projectile points in the process, which begs the question of why anybody in their right mind would do it. The payoff has to be commensurately valuable.
So how utile were the fluted tools anyway? Ostensibly removing a chunk from either side of a projectile&rsquos base, as was done in the Americas, would make it more brittle. But Eren and his colleagues demonstrated that although fluting tools from the base is tedious and tricky and about one in four or five the tool shatters in the process &ndash which must have been frustrating &ndash thinning the base actually makes the stone point more shock-absorbent.
Yes, the paleo-Indians were putting shock absorbers on their spears.
&ldquoThink of a car crashing into something. The front end crumples, protecting the people inside. It&rsquos a shock absorber,&rdquo Eren explains.
Now if one stabs a mammoth with a great big spear that has a fluted spear point, it turns out that the fluted base &ldquocrumples&rdquo a bit, absorbing stress and sparing the sharpened point. Not quite like one&rsquos car, he hastens to clarify &ndash tiny bits of stone chip off the fluted base, yet remain inside the haft. The end result is a better, more utile spear. The end.
Over in Arabia, the fluting was from the tip and could get very elaborate &ndash possibly requiring manufacture by a master crafter, Cressard says (some of the later North American examples were also extremely elaborate). That suggests that the Arabian and later American fluted points were made as a sheer display of knapping skills that they played a &ldquosociocultural role.&rdquo
Such specialized knapping is "a way to display someone's skills, this person being part of a group who can then show to other groups their very special skills. It's a whole virtuous circle of social connections," Cressard suggests.
Rmy Crassard CNRS
He and the team point out that at Ad-Dahariz, Oman they found similar fluted and unfluted points which could suggest that the unfluted ones had a functional use and the fluted ones didn't.
It is still possible that the Arabian fluted tips were used as arrowheads, Cressard and the team suggest, noting that knocking bits off from the tip downward made them lighter. For sure the points weren&rsquot fluted for the sake of hafting since the gouges were from their tip, not their base. But absent a clear practical function, Cressard et al postulate a cultural role for the colorful, intricately carved points. They may have been manufactured as a display of skill and/or status &ndash you strangle a bull, I knap an extraordinary point without breaking it.
&ldquoA potentially wasteful display of expertise, fluting may nonetheless signal another expertise: prowess in hunting game while defending one&rsquos own territory or herd,&rdquo the team writes. &ldquoThere was care lavished on delicate tangs and futile fluting&rdquo &ndash which demonstrated great individual skill but conferred little adaptive advantage in the physical requirements of hunting or defense.
In any case Cressard and the team plan future use-wear analysis which will hopefully shed light on the function the Arabian points really served.
Meanwhile, Eren agrees that the function in prehistoric Arabia may well have been to show off, as may also have been the case in some of the more elaborate post-Clovis fluted offerings.
&ldquoIn Clovis it seems very clear that it [fluting] was functional. In later cultures, when it becomes much more elaborate, we are not yet sure if it was functional or symbolic,&rdquo he says. He adds that they haven&rsquot yet tested the post-Clovis North American points to see how well they penetrate prey if they don&rsquot, that would strongly indicate a cultural context too.
Asked if the more elaborate North American tips might have been used as arrowheads, Eren points out that the bow and arrow may have arisen in South Africa some 70,000 years ago, but only reached the Americas, or was reinvented there, between 3,000 to 1,000 years ago &ndash a very late arrival and well after all the Clovis-related cultures were long gone. Spears, however, they definitely had.
|Biogeographic realm||Giants |
(over 1,000 kg)
|Very large |
|Moderately large |
|Afrotropic||6||-1||16.6%||4||-1||25%||25||-3||12%||32||-0||0%||69||-2||2.9%||136||-7||5.1%||Trans-Saharan Africa and Arabia|
|Indomalaya||5||-2||40%||6||-1||16.7%||10||-1||10%||20||-3||15%||56||-1||1.8%||97||-8||8.2%||Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and southern China|
|Palearctic||8||-8||100%||10||-5||50%||14||-5||13.7%||23||-3||15%||41||-1||2.4%||96||-22||22.9%||Eurasia and North Africa|
|Neotropic||9||-9||100%||12||-12||100%||17||-14||82%||20||-11||55%||35||-5||14.3%||93||-51||54%||South America, Central America, and the Caribbean|
|Australasia||4||-4||100%||5||-5||100%||6||-6||100%||16||-13||81.2%||25||-10||40%||56||-38||67%||Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, and neighbouring islands.|
The Late Pleistocene saw the extinction of many mammals weighing more than 40 kg. The proportion of megafauna extinctions is progressively larger the further the human migratory distance from Africa, with the highest extinction rates in Australia, and North and South America.
Extinctions in the Americas eliminated all mammals larger than 100 kg of South American origin, including those which migrated north in the Great American Interchange. It was only in Australia and the Americas that extinction occurred at family taxonomic levels or higher. This may relate to non-African megafauna and Homo sapiens not having evolved as species alongside each other. These continents had no known native species of Hominoidea (apes) at all, so no species of Hominidae (greater apes) or Homo.
The increased extent of extinction mirrors the migration pattern of modern humans: the further away from Africa, the more recently humans inhabited the area, the less time those environments (including its megafauna) had to become accustomed to humans (and vice versa).
There is no evidence of megafaunal extinctions at the height of the Last Glacial Maximum, suggesting that increased cold and glaciation were not factors in the Pleistocene extinction. 
There are three main hypotheses to explain this extinction:
- associated with the advance and retreat of major ice caps or ice sheets.
- "prehistoric overkill hypothesis" 
- the extinction of the woolly mammoth allowed the extensive grassland to become birch forest, then subsequent forest fires changed the climate. 
There are some inconsistencies between the current available data and the prehistoric overkill hypothesis. For instance, there are ambiguities around the timing of sudden Australian megafauna extinctions.  Evidence supporting the prehistoric overkill hypothesis includes the persistence of megafauna on some islands for millennia past the disappearance of their continental cousins. For instance, Ground sloths survived on the Antilles long after North and South American ground sloths were extinct, woolly mammoths died out on remote Wrangel Island 1,000 years after their extinction on the mainland, while Steller's sea cows persisted off the isolated and uninhabited Commander Islands for thousands of years after they had vanished from the continental shores of the north Pacific.  The later disappearance of these island species correlates with the later colonization of these islands by humans.
Alternative hypotheses to the theory of human responsibility include climate change associated with the last glacial period and the Younger Dryas event, as well as the Tollmann's hypothesis that extinctions resulted from bolide impacts.
Recent research indicates that each species responded differently to environmental changes, and no one factor by itself explains the large variety of extinctions. The causes may involve the interplay of climate change, competition between species, unstable population dynamics, and human predation. 
Afrotropic and Indomalaya: Africa and southern Asia Edit
The Afrotropic and Indomalaya biogeographic realms, or Old World tropics, were relatively spared by the Late Pleistocene extinctions. Sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia are the only regions that have terrestrial mammals weighing over 1000 kg today. However, there are indications of megafaunal extinction events throughout the Pleistocene, particularly in Africa two million years ago, which coincide with key stages of human evolution and climatic trends.    The center of human evolution and expansion, Africa and Asia were inhabited by advanced hominids by 2mya, with Homo habilis in Africa, and Homo erectus on both continents. By the advent and proliferation of Homo sapiens circa 315,000 BCE,    dominant species included Homo heidelbergensis in Africa, the denisovans and neanderthals (fellow H. heidelbergensis descendants) in Eurasia, and Homo erectus in Eastern Asia. Ultimately, on both continents, these groups and other populations of Homo were subsumed by successive radiations of H. sapiens.         There is evidence of an early migration event 268,000 BCE and later within neanderthal genetics,    however the earliest dating for H. sapiens inhabitation is 118,000 BCE in Arabia, China and Israel,     and 71,000 BCE in Indonesia.   Additionally, not only have these early Asian migrations left a genetic mark on modern Papuan populations,    the oldest known pottery in existence was found in China, dated to 18,000 BCE.  Particularly during the late Pleistocene, megafaunal diversity was notably reduced from both these continents, often without being replaced by comparable successor fauna. Climate change has been explored as a prominent cause of extinctions in Southeast Asia. 
- Several Bovidae spp.
- (Bos (primigenius) namadicus) (ancestor to the domestic zebu cattle)
- Bos palaesondaicus (ancestor to the banteng)
- Bison hanaizumiensis (Bubalus cebuensis)
- Bubalus grovesi (Pelorovis)
- Megalovis (Megalotragus)
- Hippotragus spp.
- Hippotragus gigas
- (Hippopotamus amphibius extirpated in western Asia circa 1,000 BCE) 
- All Malagasy hippopotamus spp. ,
- Hippopotamus laloumena
- Equus capensis
- Equus mauritanicus
- Equus namadicus
- Ceratotherium mauritanicum
- Rhinoceros philippinensis
- Rhinoceros sinensis (Rhinoceros sivalensis)
- Sivapanthera (Panthera leosinhaleyus) (Panthera pardus extirpated from Japan and Sumatra) (Panthera tigris extirpated from Japan, Western and Central Asia, Java, Bali, Borneo and Palawan)
- Elephas hysudricus
- Elephas hysudrindicus (extirpated in Java, China and Syria)
- Palaeoloxodon recki
- Paleoloxodon turkmenicus
- Pachylemur (Megaladapis)
- All monkey lemur (Archaeolemuridae) spp.
- Archaeoindris (largest lemur on record)
- Vorombe titan (largest bird on record) 
- Abrupt giant tortoise
- Grandidier's giant tortoise
- Macaca spp.
- Macaca anderssoni
- Macaca jiangchuanensis
- Robust macaque (Macaca robustus)
- (undescribed) 
- Homo erectus
- Homo luzonensis (Homo sp.) (Homo (sapiens) neanderthalensis) (Homo sp.)
- Unknown Asiatic hominins (Homo sp.)  (Homo sapiens balangodensis)
- Various Bovidae spp.
- (Bison priscus) (Bison (bonasus) schoetensacki) 
- Baikal yak (Bos baikalensis)  (Bubalus murrensis) (Hemitragus cedrensis)  (Praeovibos priscus)  (Myotragus balearicus)
- Northern saiga antelope (Saiga borealis) 
- Twisted-horned antelope (Spirocerus kiakhtensis) 
- Goat-horned antelope (Parabubalis capricornis) 
- Gazella spp. 
Palearctic: Europe and northern Asia Edit
The Palearctic realm spans the entirety of the European continent and stretches into northern Asia, through the Caucasus and central Asia to northern China, Siberia and Beringia. During the Late Pleistocene, this region was noted for its great diversity and dynamism of biomes, including the warm climes of the Mediterranean basin, open temperate woodlands, arid plains, mountainous heathland and swampy wetlands, all of which were vulnerable to the severe climatic fluctuations of the interchanges between glacial and interglacials periods (stadials). However, it was the expansive mammoth steppe which was the ecosystem which united and defined this region during the Late Pleistocene.  One of the key features of Europe's Late Pleistocene climate was the often drastic turnover of conditions and biota between the numerous stadials, which could set within a century. For example, during glacial periods, the entire North Sea was drained of water to form Doggerland. The final major cold spell occurred from 25,000 BCE to 18,000 BCE and is known as the Last Glacial Maximum, when the Fenno-Scandinavian ice sheet covered much of northern Europe, while the Alpine ice sheet occupied significant parts of central-southern Europe.
Europe and northern Asia, being far colder and drier than today,  was largely hegemonized by the mammoth steppe, an ecosystem dominated by palatable high-productivity grasses, herbs and willow shrubs.   This supported an extensive biota of grassland fauna and stretched eastwards from Spain in the Iberian Peninsula to Yukon in modern-day Canada.     The area was populated by many species of grazers which assembled in large herds similar in size to those in Africa today. Populous species which roamed the great grasslands included the woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, Elasmotherium, steppe bison, Pleistocene horse, muskox, Cervalces, reindeer, various antelopes (goat-horned antelope, mongolian gazelle, saiga antelope and twisted-horned antelope) and steppe pika. Carnivores included Eurasian cave lion, scimitar cat, cave hyena, grey wolf, dhole and the Arctic fox.   
At the edges of these large stretches of grassland could be found more shrub-like terrain and dry conifer forest and woodland (akin to forest steppe or taiga). The browsing collective of megafauna included woolly rhinoceros, giant deer, moose, Cervalces, tarpan, aurochs, woodland bison, camels and smaller deer (Siberian roe deer, red deer and Siberian musk deer). Brown bears, wolverines, cave bear, wolves, lynx, leopards and red foxes also inhabited this biome. Tigers were at stages also present, from the edges of eastern Europe around the Black Sea to Beringia. The more mountainous terrain, incorporating montane grassland, subalpine conifer forest, alpine tundra and broken, craggy slopes, was occupied by several species of mountain-going animals like argali, chamois, ibex, mouflon, pika, wolves, leopards, Ursus spp. and lynx, with snow leopards, Baikal yak and snow sheep in northern Asia. Arctic tundra, which lined the north of the mammoth steppe, reflected modern ecology with species such as the polar bear, wolf, reindeer and muskox.
Other biomes, although less noted, were significant in contributing to the diversity of fauna in Late Pleistocene Europe. Warmer grasslands such as temperate steppe and Mediterranean savannah hosted Stephanorhinus, gazelle, European bison, Asian ostriches, Leptobos, cheetah and onager. These biomes also contained an assortment of mammoth steppe fauna, such as saiga antelope, lions, scimitar cats, cave hyenas, wolves, Pleistocene horse, steppe bison, twisted-horned antelope, aurochs and camels. Temperate coniferous, deciduous, mixed broadleaf and Mediterranean forest and open woodland accommodated straight-tusked elephants, Praemegaceros, Stephanorhinus, wild boar, bovids such as European bison, tahr and tur, species of Ursus such as the Etruscan bear and smaller deer (Roe deer, red deer, fallow deer and Mediterranean deer) with several mammoth steppe species such as lynx, tarpan, wolves, dholes, moose, giant deer, woodland bison, leopards and aurochs. Woolly rhinoceros and mammoth occasionally resided in these temperate biomes, mixing with predominately temperate fauna to escape harsh glacials.   In warmer wetlands, European water buffalo and hippopotamus were present. Although these habitats were restricted to micro refugia and to southern Europe and its fringes, being in Iberia, Italy, the Balkans, Ukraine's Black Sea basin, the Caucasus and western Asia, during inter-glacials these biomes had a far more northernly range. For example, hippopotamus inhabited Great Britain and straight-tusked elephant the Netherlands, as recently as 80,000 BCE and 42,000 BCE respectively.  
The first possible indications of habitation by hominins are the 7.2 million year old finds of Graecopithecus,  and 5.7 million year old footprints in Crete — however established habitation is noted in Georgia from 1.8 million years ago, proceeded to Germany and France, by Homo erectus.   Prominent co-current and subsequent species include Homo antecessor, Homo cepranensis, Homo heidelbergensis, neanderthals and denisovans,  preceding habitation by Homo sapiens circa 38,000 BCE. Extensive contact between African and Eurasian Homo groups is known at least in part through transfers of stone-tool technology in 500,000 BCE and again at 250,000 BCE. 
Europe's Late Pleistocene biota went through two phases of extinction. Some fauna became extinct before 13,000 BCE, in staggered intervals, particularly between 50,000 BCE and 30,000 BCE. Species include cave bear, Elasmotherium, straight-tusked elephant, Stephanorhinus, water buffalo, neanderthals, gazelle and scimitar cat. However, the great majority of species were extinguished, extirpated or experienced severe population contractions between 13,000 BCE and 9,000 BCE,  ending with the Younger Dryas. At that time there were small ice sheets in Scotland and Scandinavia. The mammoth steppe disappeared from the vast majority of its former range, either due to a permanent shift in climatic conditions, or an absence of ecosystem management due to decimated, fragmented or extinct populations of megaherbivores.   This led to a region wide extinction vortex, resulting in cyclically diminishing bio-productivity [ citation needed ] and defaunation. Insular species on Mediterranean islands such as Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Cyprus and Crete, went extinct around the same time as humans colonised those islands. Fauna included dwarf elephants, megacerines and hippopotamuses, and giant avians, otters and rodents.
- (Cervalces latifrons) (Megaloceros giganteus)
- Praemegaceros (Candiacervus)
- Mediterranean deer (Haploidoceros mediterraneus)  (Cervus elaphus acoronatus) 
- Equuscf.gallicus (Equus hydruntinus)
- Elasmotherium (Coelodonta antiquitatis)
- Stephanorhinus spp.
- (Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis) (Stephanorhinus hemiotoechus)
- Palaeoloxodon chaniensis (Palaeoloxodon cypriotes) (Palaeoloxodon falconeri)
- Palaeoloxodon mnaidriensis
- Grus primigenia
- Grus melitensis
- †European lion (Panthera leo europaea) (Panthera tigris, from the UkrainianBlack Sea to Beringia)  (Acinonyxjubatus)  (Panthera pardus ciscaucasica) (Panthera uncia) and Iberian lynx (Lynx lynx and Lynx pardinus) (Gulo gulo) (Ursus maritimus) (Vulpes lagopus) (Cuon alpinus) (†Megafaunal et Beringian wolf, and the Paleolithic dog (Canis lupus))
- †Tarpan (Equus ferus ferus) (Dama dama) (Ovis gmelini) (Rupicapra spp.) (Capra caucasica)  (Saiga tatarica) (Rangifer tarandus) (Alces alces) (Equus hemionus)
- †Aurochs (Bos primigenius) (Bison bonasus) (Bubalus arnee)  (Ovibos moschatus) (Elephas maximus, from the Black Sea to Northern China) (Ochotona pusilla) (Allactaga major) (Hippopotamus amphibius) (Geronticus eremita)
- †Great auk (Pinguinus impennis)  (Bubo scandiacus) (Macaca sylvanus)
- Various Bovidae spp.
- Most forms of Pleistocene bison (only Bison bison in North America, and Bison bonasus in Eurasia, survived)
- (Bison antiquus) (H) (Bison latifrons) (H) (Bison priscus) (H)
- Bison occidentalis (H)
- (Praeovibos priscus) (H) (Euceratherium collinum) (H) (Bootherium bombifrons) (H) (Soergelia mayfieldi) (H) (Oreamnos harringtoni smaller and more southern distribution than its surviving relative) (H)
- Most forms of Pleistocene bison (only Bison bison in North America, and Bison bonasus in Eurasia, survived)
- Hayoceros (H)
- Stockoceros (H)
- Tetrameryx (H)
- Equus alaskae (H)
- Equus cedralensis (H) (Equus conversidens) (H)
- Equus complicatus (H)
- Equus fraternus (H)  (H) (Equus hemionus extirpated)  (H) (Equus kiang extirpated)  (H) (Equus lambei) (H)
- Equus mexicanus (H) (Equus niobrarensis) (H) (Equus pacificus)  (H) (Equus occidentalis) (H)
- Equus semiplicatus (H) (Equus simplicidens) (H) (Equus scotti) (H) (Haringtonhippus francisci / Equus francisci may be a synonym of Mexican horse) (H)
- Miracinonyx inexpectatus (C)
- Miracinonyx trumani (C)
- Arctodus simus (C)
- Arctodus pristinus (C)
- Cuvieronius (H)
- Stegomastodon (H)
- Castoroides ohioensis (H)
- Castoroides leiseyorum (H)
- Xaymaca fulvopulvis (H)
- Insulacebus toussaintiana (H)
- Eremotherium (megatheriid ground sloth) (H)
- Nothrotheriops (nothrotheriid ground sloth) (H) ground sloth spp.
- Megalonyx (H)
- Nohochichak (H)
- Xibalbaonyx (H)
- Acratocnus (H)
- Habanocnus (H)
- Megalocnus (H)
- Miocnus (H)
- Neocnus (H)
- Paramylodon (H)
- Glossotherium (H)
- Glyptotherium (H)
- Pachyarmatherium (H)
- Holmesina (H)
- (Meleagris californica) (H)
- Meleagris crassipes (H)
- All cave rail (Nesotrochis) spp. e.g.
- (Nesotrochis debooyi) (C)
- Plyolimbus baryosteus (C)
- Podiceps spp.
- Podiceps parvus (C)
- Phalacrocorax goletensis (C)
- Phalacrocorax chapalensis (C)
- (C) (C) (C) (C) (C)
- Bahaman terrestrial caracara (Caracara sp.) (C)
- Puerto Rican terrestrial caracara (Caracara sp.) (C) (Carcara tellustris) (C)
- Cuban caracara (Milvago sp.) (C)
- Hispaniolan caracara (Milvago sp.) (C)
- Hesperotestudo (H)
- Gopherus sp.
- Gopherus donlaloi (H)
The survivors are in some ways as significant as the losses: bison (H), grey wolf (C), lynx (C), grizzly bear (C), American black bear (C), deer (e.g. caribou, moose, wapiti (elk), Odocoileus spp.) (H), pronghorn (H), white-lipped peccary (H), muskox (H), bighorn sheep (H), and mountain goat (H) the list of survivors also include species which were extirpated during the Quaternary extinction event, but recolonised at least part of their ranges during the mid-holocene from South American relict populations, such as the cougar (C), jaguar (C), giant anteater (C), collared peccary (H), ocelot (C) and jaguarundi (C). All save the pronghorns and giant anteaters were descended from Asian ancestors that had evolved with human predators.  Pronghorns are the second-fastest land mammal (after the cheetah), which may have helped them elude hunters. More difficult to explain in the context of overkill is the survival of bison, since these animals first appeared in North America less than 240,000 years ago and so were geographically removed from human predators for a sizeable period of time.    Because ancient bison evolved into living bison,   there was no continent-wide extinction of bison at the end of the Pleistocene (although the genus was regionally extirpated in many areas). The survival of bison into the Holocene and recent times is therefore inconsistent with the overkill scenario. By the end of the Pleistocene, when humans first entered North America, these large animals had been geographically separated from intensive human hunting for more than 200,000 years. Given this enormous span of geologic time, bison would almost certainly have been very nearly as naive as native North American large mammals.
The culture that has been connected with the wave of extinctions in North America is the paleo-American culture associated with the Clovis people (q.v.), who were thought to use spear throwers to kill large animals. The chief criticism of the "prehistoric overkill hypothesis" has been that the human population at the time was too small and/or not sufficiently widespread geographically to have been capable of such ecologically significant impacts. This criticism does not mean that climate change scenarios explaining the extinction are automatically to be preferred by default, however, any more than weaknesses in climate change arguments can be taken as supporting overkill. Some form of a combination of both factors could be plausible, and overkill would be a lot easier to achieve large-scale extinction with an already stressed population due to climate change.
Neotropic: South America Edit
The Neotropical realm was affected by the fact that South America had been isolated as an island continent for many millions of years, and had a wide range of fauna found nowhere else, although many of them became extinct during the Great American Interchange about 3 million years ago, such as the Sparassodonta family. Those that survived the interchange included the ground sloths, glyptodonts, litopterns, pampatheres, phorusrhacids (terror birds) and notoungulates all managed to extend their range to North America.    In the Pleistocene, South America remained largely unglaciated except for increased mountain glaciation in the Andes, which had a two-fold effect- there was a faunal divide between the Andes,   and the colder, arid interior resulted in the advance of temperate lowland woodland, tropical savanna and desert at the expense of rainforest.      Within these open environments, megafauna diversity was extremely dense, with over 40 genera recorded from the Guerrero member of Luján Formation alone.     Ultimately, by the mid-Holocene, all the preeminent genera of megafauna became extinct- the last specimens of Doedicurus and Toxodon have been dated to 4,555 BCE and 3,000 BCE respectively.     Their smaller relatives remain, including anteaters, tree sloths, armadillos New World marsupials: opossums, shrew opossums, and the monito del monte (actually more related to Australian marsupials).  Intense human habitation was established circa 11,000 BCE, however partly disputed evidence of pre-clovis habitation occurs since 46,000 BCE and 20,000 BCE, such as at the Serra da Capivara National Park (Brazil) and Monte Verde (Chile) sites.    Today the largest land mammals remaining in South America are the wild camels of the Lamini group, such as the guanacos and vicuñas, and the genus Tapirus, of which Baird's tapir can reach up to 400 kg. Other notable surviving large fauna are peccaries, marsh deer (Capreolinae), giant anteaters, spectacled bears, maned wolves, pumas, ocelots, jaguars, rheas, emerald tree boas, boa constrictors, anacondas, American crocodiles, caimans, and giant rodents such as capybaras.
- Several Cervidae spp.
- Agalmaceros blicki
- Odocoileus salinae
- Stilt legged llama Hemiauchenia
- Stout legged llama Palaeolama
- (Amerhippus) 
- Equus andium
- Equus insulatus
- Equus neogeus
- Hippidion devillei
- Hippidion principale
- Hippidion saldiasi
- Macraucheniopsis spp. e.g.
- (Neolicaphrium recens) 
- Hegetotheriidae spp.
- Mesotheriidae spp.
- (Smilodon) spp. 
- (Smilodon fatalis) (Smilodon populator)
- Protocyon trogolodytes
- Protocyon tarijense
- Arctotherium bonairense
- Arctotherium tarijense
- Arctotherium wingei
- Beautiful armadillo (Dasypus bellus)
- Holmesina (et ' Chlamytherium occidentale ' ) 
- Venezuelan caracara (Caracara major) 
- Seymour's caracara (Caracara seymouri) 
- Peruvian caracara (Milvago brodkorbi) 
- Various members of Diprotodontidae
- Euryzygoma dunense
- Hulitherium tomasetti
- Maokopia ronaldi
- Lasiorhinus angustidens (giant wombat)
- Phascolomys (giant wombat) 
- Phascolonus (giant wombat)
- Ramasayia magna (giant wombat)
- Vombatus hacketti (Hackett's wombat)
- Warendja wakefieldi (dwarf wombat)
- Procoptodon (short-faced kangaroos) e.g.
- Procoptodon goliah
- Macropus titan
- Macropus pearsoni
- Sarcophilus laniarius (25 % larger than modern species)
- Sarcophilus moornaensis
- Sarcophilus harrisii (extirpated on mainland Australia)
- (Phoenicopterus ruber extirpated in Australia) 
- Xenorhynchopsis spp. (Australian flamingo) 
- Xenorhynchopsis minor
- Xenorhynchopsis tibialis
- (Megapodius molistructor) (Megapodius alimentum) (Megapodius amissus)
- (Coenocorypha miratropica) (Coenocorypha neocaledonica)
The Pacific (Australasia and Oceania) Edit
One thing that makes the extinction of the Australian megafauna particularly special is that prior to and into the Quaternary period the vast oceans prevented homo sapiens and other animals from reaching the outer world: islands like Australia and Madagascar. As a result, organisms in these places evolved in isolation for millions of years taking on quite different structures from their Afro-Asian relatives. One key characteristic of the Australian animals is that they were marsupials. Marsupials are animals that give birth to tiny, helpless offspring and then nurture them with breast milk in their abdominal pouches. While many of the animals of Australia were marsupial these types of animals were almost unknown in Africa and Asia. Secondly many of the animals in Australia were megafauna, megafauna are animals that weight 100 pounds or more. During the quaternary period homo sapiens acquired the technology to sail the oceans allowing them to settle the outer world. Evidence shows that homo sapiens first arrived in Australia about 70,000 year ago and colonizing the landscape in about 30,000 years. Within this 30,000-year period 90% of megafauna species inhabiting Australia went extinct. Scientists hold three main theories behind the extinction of the Australian megafauna. One is that it was caused by overkill after the widespread appearance of homo sapiens, another is that they went extinct due to natural climate change, and the final theory is that extinction was caused by a combination of overkill by humans and natural climate change. 
Beginning with the idea of a human caused extinction event from the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, there exists three pieces of evidence that support this hypothesis. First, despite Australia’s climate changing at the time it is hard to say natural climate change alone could have caused such a massive extinction event. For example, the giant diprotodon inhabited Australia for more than 1.5 million years before humans showed up and the species it known to have survived 10 previous ice ages. So, if the giant diproton had survived 10 previous ice ages why did it along with 90% of the other megafauna die out around 45,000 years ago around when homo sapiens colonized Australia. Secondly, typically when climate change is the cause of mass extinctions, sea organisms usually experience greater consequences than organisms living on land. Yet there is no evidence of any significant extinction of oceanic fauna 45,000 years ago in Australia. This points to homo sapiens being the cause of the extinction of the Australian megafauna because at the time homo sapiens still overwhelmingly lived off the land as opposed to the sea. Thirdly the extinction of megafauna following the arrival of humans has been seen in multiple outer world locations over the last millennia. Examples include New Zealand only 800 years ago and Wrangel, an artic island, 4000 years ago. Therefore, it makes sense that this pattern would also hold true in the case of Australian megafauna. 
Given that 90% of Australian megafauna went extinct within 30,000 years of the arrival of human beings one must ask themselves why these animals were not fit to survive against humans. One of these reasons is that megafauna are exceptionally large animals. As a result, these animals breed slowly, have long pregnancies periods, and produce few offspring per pregnancy. In addition, there is usually a long break in between pregnancies. Secondly many of these animals were marsupials so there existed a long development period from birth to maturity and offspring were dependent on their parents for breastmilk for quite some time. These two characteristics combined contributed to the extinction of Australian megafauna because hunting is more detrimental to these types of populations than others. For example, if human beings killed one diprotodon every few months it would be enough for yearly diprotodon deaths to outnumber diprotodon births causing population decline, and within a thousand years this could lead to extinction. Another aspect making Australian megafauna less fit to survive against humans is that homo sapiens evolved separately from the Australian megafauna, so the megafauna had no predeveloped fear towards humans making hunting them easier. 
The second hypothesis held by scientists is that the Australian megafauna went extinct due to natural climate change. The main reason this theory exists is that there is evidence of megafauna surviving up until 40,000 years ago, a full 30,000 years after homo sapiens first landed in Australia. Implying that there was a significant period of homo sapiens and megafauna coexistence. Evidence of these animals existing at this time come from fossils records and ocean sediment. To begin with, sediment core drilled in the Indian Ocean off the coast of the southwest Australia indicate the existence of a fungus called Sporormiella which survived off the dung of plant eating mammals. The abundance of these spores in the sediment prior to 45,000 years ago indicates a lot of large mammals existed on the southwest Australian landscape up until that point. The sediment data also indicated that the megafauna population collapsed within a few thousand years around the 45,000 years ago suggesting a rapid extinction event  . In addition, fossils found at South Walker Creek, which is the youngest megafauna site in northern Australia, indicate that at least 16 species of megafauna survived there up until 40,000 years ago. Furthermore, there is no firm evidence of homo sapiens beings at South Walker Creek 40,000 years ago, therefore no human cause can be attributed to the extinction of these megafauna. However, there is evidence of major environmental deterioration of South Water Creek 40,000 years ago which the extinction can be attributed to. These changes include increased fire, reduction in grasslands, and the loss of freshwater  . The same environmental deterioration is seen across Australia at the time further strengthening the climate change argument. Australia’s climate at the time could best be described as an overall drying of the landscape due to less mean annual precipitation causing less freshwater availability and more drought conditions across the landscape. Overall, this led to changes in vegetation, increased fires, overall reduction in grasslands, and a greater competition for already scarce amount of freshwater  . In turn all these environmental changes proved to me too much for the Australian megafauna to cope with causing 90% of megafauna species to go extinct.
The third hypothesis shared by some scientists is that human impacts and natural climate changes led to the extinction of Australian megafauna. To begin with it is important to note that approximately 75% of Australia is semi-arid or arid landscape, therefore it makes sense that megafauna species utilized the same freshwater resources as humans. As a result, this could have increased the amount of megafauna hunted due to the competition for freshwater as the drought conditions persisted  . On top of the already dry conditions and diminishing grasslands, homo sapiens used fire agriculture to burn impassable land. This further diminished the already disappearing grassland which contained plants that were key dietary component of herbivorous megafauna. While there is no scientific consensus on the true cause of the extinction of Australian megafauna it is plausible that homo sapiens and natural climate change both had an impact because they were both in Australia at the time. Overall, there is an immense amount of evidence pointing to humans being the culprit but by ruling out climate change completely as a cause of the Australian megafauna extinction we are not getting the whole picture. The climate change that occurred in Australia 45,000 years ago destabilized the ecosystem making it particularly vulnerable to hunting and fire agriculture by humans this is probably what led to the extinction of the Australian megafauna.
In Sahul (a former continent composed of Australia and New Guinea), the sudden and extensive spate of extinctions occurred earlier than in the rest of the world.      Most evidence points to a 20,000 year period after human arrival circa 63,000 BCE,  but scientific argument continues as to the exact date range.  In the rest of the Pacific (other Australasian islands such as New Caledonia, and Oceania) although in some respects far later, endemic fauna also usually perished quickly upon the arrival of humans in the late Pleistocene and early Holocene. This section does only include extinctions that took place prior to European discovery of the respective islands.
The extinctions in the Pacific included:
- (Accipiter efficax) (Accipiter quartus)
- Brachylophus gibbonsi
- (Dinornis) (Megalapteryx didinus) (Anomalopteryx didiformis) (Emeus crassus) (Euryapteryx curtus)
- In predator-prey models it is unlikely that predators could over-hunt their prey, since predators need their prey as food to sustain life and to reproduce.  This assumes that all food sources die out simultaneously, but humans could have made the mammoth extinct while subsisting on elk, for example. Human hunting is known to have exterminated megafauna on several islands, switching to other food sources with time or dying out themselves. Additionally it is common knowledge among ornithologists that introduced predators have easily made several species extinct on islands, and this is a foremost cause of island extinctions today.
- There is no archeological evidence that in North America megafauna other than mammoths, mastodons, gomphotheres and bison were hunted, despite the fact that, for example, camels and horses are very frequently reported in fossil history.  Overkill proponents, however, say this is due to the fast extinction process in North America and the low probability of animals with signs of butchery to be preserved.  Additionally, biochemical analyses have shown that Clovis tools were used in butchering horses and camels.  A study by Surovell and Grund  concluded "archaeological sites dating to the time of the coexistence of humans and extinct fauna are rare. Those that preserve bone are considerably more rare, and of those, only a very few show unambiguous evidence of human hunting of any type of prey whatsoever."
- A small number of animals that were hunted, such as a single species of bison, did not go extinct. This cannot be explained by proposing that surviving bison in North America were recent Eurasian immigrants that were familiar with human hunting practices, since Bison first appeared in North America approximately 240,000 years ago  and then evolved into living bison.  Bison at the end of the Pleistocene were thus likely to have been almost as naive as their native North American megafaunal companions.
- The dwarfing of animals is not explained by overkill. Numerous authors [who?] , however, have pointed out that dwarfing of animals is perfectly well explained by humans selectively harvesting the largest animals, and have provided proof that even within the 20th century numerous animal populations have reduced in average size due to human hunting.
- Eurasian Pleistocene megafauna became extinct in roughly same time period despite having a much longer time to adapt to hunting pressure by humans. However, the extinction of the Eurasian megafauna can be viewed as a result of a different process than that of the American megafauna. This makes the theory less parsimonious since another mechanism is required. The latter case occurred after the sudden appearance of modern human hunters on a land mass they had never previously inhabited, while the former case was the culmination of the gradual northward movement of human hunters over thousands of years as their technology for enduring extreme cold and bringing down big game improved. Thus, while the hunting hypothesis does not necessarily predict the rough simultaneity of the north Eurasian and American megafaunal extinctions, this simultaneity cannot be regarded as evidence against it.
- Eugene S. Hunn points out that the birthrate in hunter-gatherer societies is generally too low, that too much effort is involved in the bringing down of a large animal by a hunting party, and that in order for hunter-gatherers to have brought about the extinction of megafauna simply by hunting them to death, an extraordinary amount of meat would have had to have been wasted.  It is possible that those who advocate the overkill hypothesis simply have not considered the differences in outlook between typical forager (hunter-gatherer) cultures and the present-day industrial cultures which exist in modernized human societies waste may be tolerated and even encouraged in the latter, but is not so much in the former. It may be noted that in relatively recent human history, for instance, the Lakota of North America were known to take only as much bison as they could use, and they used virtually the whole animal—this despite having access to herds numbering in the millions.  Conversely, "buffalo jumps"  featured indiscriminate killing of a herd. However, Hunn's comments are in reference to the now largely discredited theory of hunter-prey equilibrium reached after thousands of years of coexistence. It is not relevant to hunters newly arrived on a virgin land mass full of easily taken big game. The well-established practice of industrial-scale moa butchering by the early Maori, involving enormous wastage of less choice portions of the meat, indicates that these arguments are incorrect. 
- The hypothesis that the Clovis culture represented the first humans to arrive in the New World has been disputed recently. (See Settlement of the Americas.) However, Clovis artifacts are currently the earliest-known evidence of widespread settlement in the Americas.
- Megaherbivores have prospered at other times of continental climate. For example, megaherbivores thrived in Pleistocene Siberia, which had and has a more continental climate than Pleistocene or modern (post-Pleistocene, interglacial) North America. 
- The animals that became extinct actually should have prospered during the shift from mixed woodland-parkland to prairie, because their primary food source, grass, was increasing rather than decreasing.  Although the vegetation did become more spatially specialized, the amount of prairie and grass available increased, which would have been good for horses and for mammoths, and yet they became extinct. This criticism ignores the increased abundance and broad geographic extent of Pleistocene Bison at the end of the Pleistocene, which would have increased competition for these resources in a manner not seen in any earlier interglacials. 
- Although horses became extinct in the New World, they were successfully reintroduced by the Spanish in the 16th century—into a modern post-Pleistocene, interglacial climate. Today there are feral horses still living in those same environments. They find a sufficient mix of food to avoid toxins, they extract enough nutrition from forage to reproduce effectively and the timing of their gestation is not an issue. Of course, this criticism ignores the obvious fact that present-day horses are not competing for resources with ground sloths, mammoths, mastodons, camels, llamas, and bison. Similarly, mammoths survived the Pleistocene Holocene transition on isolated, uninhabited islands in the Mediterranean Sea and on Wrangel Island in the Siberian Arctic  until 4,000 to 7,000 years ago.
- Large mammals should have been able to migrate, permanently or seasonally, if they found the temperature too extreme, the breeding season too short, or the rainfall too sparse or unpredictable.  Seasons vary geographically. By migrating away from the equator, herbivores could have found areas with growing seasons more favorable for finding food and breeding successfully. Modern-day African elephants migrate during periods of drought to places where there is apt to be water. 
- Large animals store more fat in their bodies than do medium-sized animals  and this should have allowed them to compensate for extreme seasonal fluctuations in food availability.
- Generally speaking, disease has to be very virulent to kill off all the individuals in a genus or species. Even such a virulent disease as West Nile fever is unlikely to have caused extinction. 
- The disease would need to be implausibly selective while being simultaneously implausibly broad. Such a disease needs to be capable of killing off wolves such as Canis dirus or goats such as Oreamnos harringtoni while leaving other very similar species (Canis lupus and Oreamnos americanus, respectively) unaffected. It would need to be capable of killing off flightless birds while leaving closely related flighted species unaffected. Yet while remaining sufficiently selective to afflict only individual species within genera it must be capable of fatally infecting across such clades as birds, marsupials, placentals, testudines, and crocodilians. No disease with such a broad scope of fatal infectivity is known, much less one that remains simultaneously incapable of infecting numerous closely related species within those disparate clades. On the other hand, this objection does not account for the possibility of a variety of different diseases being introduced around the same era. 
- Numerous species including wolves, mammoths, camelids, and horses had emigrated continually between Asia and North America over the past 100,000 years. For the disease hypothesis to be applicable there it would require that the population remain immunologically naive despite this constant transmission of genetic and pathogenic material. 
- The dog-specific hypothesis cannot account for several major extinction events, notably the Americas (for reasons already covered) and Australia. Dogs did not arrive in Australia until approximately 35,000 years after the first humans arrived there, and approximately 30,000 years after the Australian megafaunal extinction was complete. 
- After the arrival of H. sapiens in the New World, existing predators must share the prey populations with this new predator. Because of this competition, populations of original, or first-order, predators cannot find enough food they are in direct competition with humans.
- Second-order predation begins as humans begin to kill predators.
- Prey populations are no longer well controlled by predation. Killing of nonhuman predators by H. sapiens reduces their numbers to a point where these predators no longer regulate the size of the prey populations.
- Lack of regulation by first-order predators triggers boom-and-bust cycles in prey populations. Prey populations expand and consequently overgraze and over-browse the land. Soon the environment is no longer able to support them. As a result, many herbivores starve. Species that rely on the slowest recruiting food become extinct, followed by species that cannot extract the maximum benefit from every bit of their food.
- Boom-bust cycles in herbivore populations change the nature of the vegetative environment, with consequent climatic impacts on relative humidity and continentality. Through overgrazing and overbrowsing, mixed parkland becomes grassland, and climatic continentality increases.
- Climate change: Second-order predation accounts for the changes in vegetation, which in turn may account for the increase in continentality. Since the extinction is due to destruction of habitat it accounts for the loss of animals not hunted by humans. Second-order predation accounts for the dwarfing of animals as well as extinctions since animals that could survive and reproduce on less food would be selectively favored.
- Hyperdisease: The reduction of carnivores could have been from distemper or other carnivore disease carried by domestic dogs.
- Overkill: The observation that extinctions follow the arrival of humans is consistent with the second-order predation hypothesis.
- The model specifically assumes high extinction rates in grasslands, but most extinctspecies ranged across numerous vegetation zones. Historical population densities of ungulates were very high in the Great Plains savanna environments support high ungulate diversity throughout Africa, and extinction intensity was equally severe in forested environments.
- It is unable to explain why large herbivore populations were not regulated by surviving carnivores such as grizzly bears, wolves, pumas, and jaguars whose populations would have increased rapidly in response to the loss of competitors.
- It does not explain why almost all extinct carnivores were large herbivore specialists such as sabre toothed cats and short faced bears, but most hypocarnivores and generalized carnivores survived.
- There is no historical evidence of boom and bust cycles causing even local extinctions in regions where large mammal predators have been driven extinct by hunting. The recent hunting out of remaining predators throughout most of the United States has not caused massive vegetational change or dramatic boom and bust cycles in ungulates.
- It is not spatially explicit and does not track predator and prey species separately, whereas the multispecies overkill model does both.
- The multispecies model produces a mass extinction through indirect competition between herbivore species: small species with high reproductive rates subsidize predation on large species with low reproductive rates.  All prey species are lumped in the Pleistocene extinction model.
- Everything explained by the Pleistocene extinction model also is explained by the multispecies model, but with fewer assumptions, so the Pleistocene extinction model appears less parsimonious. However, the multispecies model does not explain shifts in vegetation, nor is it able to simulate alternative hypotheses. The multispecies model therefore necessitates additional assumptions and hence is less parsimonious.
- It assumes decreases in vegetation due to climate change, but deglaciation doubled the habitable area of North America.
- Any vegetational changes that did occur failed to cause almost any extinctions of small vertebrates, and they are more narrowly distributed on average.
- (largest land mammal on record) 
- (Daubentonia robusta)
- (Hippopotamus antiquus) (Hippopotamus melitensis) (Hippopotamus minor) (Hippopotamus pentlandi)
- (Equus ferus ssp.)
- (Homotherium latidens) (Lynx spelaeus)  (Lynx issiodorensis) spp.
- (Panthera spelaea) (Panthera pardus spelaea)
- (Cyrnaonyx) (Algarolutra) (Megalenhydris barbaricina) (Sardolutra) (Lutrogale cretensis)
- (Ursus deningeri) (Ursus etruscus) (Ursus ingressus)  (Ursus rossicus) (Ursus spelaeus) (Ursus maritimus tyrannus)
- (Mammuthus primigenius)
- (Mammuthus creticus) (Mammuthus lamarmorai)
- (Hypnomys morpheus)
- (Ochotona whartoni)
Many species extant today were present in areas either far to the south or west of their contemporary ranges- for example, all the arctic fauna on this list inhabited regions as south as the Iberian Peninsula at various stages of the Late Pleistocene. Recently extinct organisms are noted as †. Species extirpated from significant portions of or all former ranges in Europe and northern Asia during the Quaternary extinction event include-
Nearctic: North America Edit
During the last 60,000 years, including the end of the last glacial period, approximately 51 genera of large mammals have become extinct in North America. Of these, many genera extinctions can be reliably attributed to a brief interval of 11,500 to 10,000 radiocarbon years before present, shortly following the arrival of the Clovis people in North America [ citation needed ] . Prominent paleontological sites include Mexico     and Panama, the crossroads of the American Interchange.  Most other extinctions are poorly constrained in time, though some definitely occurred outside of this narrow interval.  In contrast, only about half a dozen small mammals disappeared during this time. Previous North American extinction pulses had occurred at the end of glaciations, but not with such an ecological imbalance between large mammals and small ones (Moreover, previous extinction pulses were not comparable to the Quaternary extinction event they involved primarily species replacements within ecological niches, while the latter event resulted in many ecological niches being left unoccupied). Such include the last native North American terror bird (Titanis), rhinoceros (Aphelops) and hyena (Chasmaporthetes). Human habitation commenced unequivocally approximately 22,000 BCE north of the glacier,  and 13,500 BCE south,   however disputed evidence of southern human habitation exists from 130,000 BCE and 17,000 BCE onwards, described from sites in California and Meadowcroft in Pennsylvania.   North American extinctions (noted as herbivores (H) or carnivores (C)) included:
- (Platygonus) (H) (Mylohyus) (H) (Pecari tajacu extirpated, range semi-recolonised) (H) (Muknalia minimus is a junior synonym)
- (Camelops hesternus) (H) (Hemiauchenia ssp.) (H) (Palaeolama ssp.) (H)
- (Tapirus californicus) (H) (Tapirus copei) (H) (Tapirus merriami) (H) (Tapirus veroensis) (H)
- (Smilodon fatalis) (C) (Homotherium serum) (C) (Miracinonyx not true cheetah)
- (Canis lupus ssp.) (C)
- (Arctodus) spp.
- (Mammut americanum) (H) (Mammut pacificus) (H) spp.
- (Mammuthus columbi) (H) (Mammuthus exilis) (H) (Mammuthus primigenius) (H)
- (Neochoerus pinckneyi) (H)
- (Amblyrhiza inundata could grow as large as an American black bear) (H) (Elasmodontomys obliquus) (H) (Quemisia gravis) (H) (Clidomys osborn's) (H)
- (Xenothrix mcgregori) (H) (Paralouatta) (H) (Antillothrix bernensis) (H)
- (Phoenicopterus minutus)  (C) (Phoenicopterus copei)  (C)
- (Coragyps occidentalis ssp.) (C) (Gymnogyps amplus) (C) (Breagyps clarki) (C) (Gymnogyps varonai) (C)
- (Neophrontops americanus)  (C) (Amplibuteo woodwardi) (C) (Buteogallus borrasi) (C) (Buteogallus daggetti) (C) (Buteogallus fragilis) (C) (Gigantohierax suarezi)  (C) (Neogyps errans) (C) (Spizaetus grinnelli)  (C) (Spizaetus willetti)  (C) (Titanohierax) (C)
- (Asphaltoglaux) (C) (Glaucidium kurochkini) (C) (Oraristix brea) (C) (Ornimegalonyx) (C)
- (Circus eylesi) (Circus dossenus endemic to Hawaii)
- (Corvus antipodum) (Corvus moriorum) (Corvus impluviatus large crow endemic to Maui)
- (Leiopelma auroraensis) (Leiopelma markhami) (Leiopelma waitomoensis)
- (Chelychelynechen quassus from Kaua'i) (Ptaiochen pau from Maui) (Thambetochen xanion) (Thambetochen chauliodous)
- (Telespiza persecutrix) (Telespiza ypsilon)
- (Rhodacanthis litotes) (Rhodacanthis forfex)
Some extinct megafauna, such as the bunyip-like Diprotodon, may remain in folk memory or be the sources of cryptozoological legends.
There is no general agreement on where the Holocene, or anthropogenic, extinction begins, and the Quaternary extinction event ends, or if they should be considered separate events at all.   Some have suggested that anthropogenic extinctions may have begun as early as when the first modern humans spread out of Africa between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago, which is supported by rapid megafaunal extinction following recent human colonisation in Australia, New Zealand and Madagascar,  in a similar way that any large, adaptable predator moving into a new ecosystem would. In many cases, it is suggested even minimal hunting pressure was enough to wipe out large fauna, particularly on geographically isolated islands.   Only during the most recent parts of the extinction have plants also suffered large losses. 
Overall, the Holocene extinction can be characterised by the human impact on the environment. The Holocene extinction continues into the 21st century, with overfishing, ocean acidification and the amphibian crisis being a few broader examples of an almost universal, cosmopolitan decline of biodiversity.
The hunting hypothesis suggests that humans hunted megaherbivores to extinction, which in turn caused the extinction of carnivores and scavengers which had preyed upon those animals.    Therefore, this hypothesis holds Pleistocene humans responsible for the megafaunal extinction. One variant, known as blitzkrieg, portrays this process as relatively quick. Some of the direct evidence for this includes: fossils of some megafauna found in conjunction with human remains, embedded arrows and tool cut marks found in megafaunal bones, and European cave paintings that depict such hunting. Biogeographical evidence is also suggestive: the areas of the world where humans evolved currently have more of their Pleistocene megafaunal diversity (the elephants and rhinos of Asia and Africa) compared to other areas such as Australia, the Americas, Madagascar and New Zealand without the earliest humans. A picture arises of the megafauna of Asia and Africa evolving alongside humans, learning to be wary of them, and in other parts of the world the wildlife appearing ecologically naive and easier to hunt. [ citation needed ] This is particularly true of island fauna, which display a disastrous lack of fear of humans. [ citation needed ] Of course, it is impossible to demonstrate this naïveté directly in ancient fauna. It is highly assumed that despite many large animals easily viewing humans as a threat, humans' endurance, by literally endlessly chasing said animals over long distances, something most animals, even fast predators, are incapable of doing so, combined with the domestication of dogs, as wolves are also known to have endurance, ultimately made these animals more vulnerable to extinction, as such ended up overwhelming them, and therefore making them too weak to even defend themselves.
Circumstantially, the close correlation in time between the appearance of humans in an area and extinction there provides weight for this scenario. The megafaunal extinctions covered a vast period of time and highly variable climatic situations. The earliest extinctions in Australia were complete approximately 50,000 BP, well before the last glacial maximum and before rises in temperature. The most recent extinction in New Zealand was complete no earlier than 500 BP and during a period of cooling. In between these extremes megafaunal extinctions have occurred progressively in such places as North America, South America and Madagascar with no climatic commonality. The only common factor that can be ascertained is the arrival of humans.   This phenomenon appears even within regions. The mammal extinction wave in Australia about 50,000 years ago coincides not with known climatic changes, but with the arrival of humans. In addition, large mammal species like the giant kangaroo Protemnodon appear to have succumbed sooner on the Australian mainland than on Tasmania, which was colonised by humans a few thousand years later.  
Worldwide, extinctions seem to follow the migration of humans and to be most severe where humans arrived most recently and least severe where humans originated — in Africa (see figure "March of Man" below). This suggests that prey animals and human hunting ability evolved together, so the animals evolved avoidance techniques. As humans migrated throughout the world and became more and more proficient at hunting, they encountered animals that had evolved without the presence of humans. Lacking the fear of humans that African animals had developed, animals outside of Africa were easy prey for human hunting techniques. It also suggests that this is independent of climate change. [ citation needed ]
Extinction through human hunting has been supported by archaeological finds of mammoths with projectile points embedded in their skeletons, by observations of modern naïve animals allowing hunters to approach easily    and by computer models by Mosimann and Martin,  and Whittington and Dyke,  and most recently by Alroy. 
A study published in 2015 supported the hypothesis further by running several thousand scenarios that correlated the time windows in which each species is known to have become extinct with the arrival of humans on different continents or islands.  This was compared against climate reconstructions for the last 90,000 years.  The researchers found correlations of human spread and species extinction indicating that the human impact was the main cause of the extinction, while climate change exacerbated the frequency of extinctions.   The study, however, found an apparently low extinction rate in the fossil record of mainland Asia. 
Overkill hypothesis Edit
The overkill hypothesis, a variant of the hunting hypothesis, was proposed in 1966 by Paul S. Martin, Professor of Geosciences Emeritus at the Desert Laboratory of the University of Arizona. 
Objections to the hunting hypothesis Edit
The major objections to the theory are as follows:
At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, when scientists first realized that there had been glacial and interglacial ages, and that they were somehow associated with the prevalence or disappearance of certain animals, they surmised that the termination of the Pleistocene ice age might be an explanation for the extinctions.
Critics object that since there were multiple glacial advances and withdrawals in the evolutionary history of many of the megafauna, it is rather implausible that only after the last glacial maximum would there be such extinctions. However, this criticism is rejected by a recent study indicating that terminal Pleistocene megafaunal community composition may have differed markedly from faunas present during earlier interglacials, particularly with respect to the great abundance and geographic extent of Pleistocene Bison at the end of the epoch.  This suggests that the survival of megafaunal populations during earlier interglacials is essentially irrelevant to the terminal Pleistocene extinction event, because bison were not present in similar abundance during any of the earlier interglacials.
Some evidence weighs against climate change as a valid hypothesis as applied to Australia. It has been shown that the prevailing climate at the time of extinction (40,000–50,000 BP) was similar to that of today, and that the extinct animals were strongly adapted to an arid climate. The evidence indicates that all of the extinctions took place in the same short time period, which was the time when humans entered the landscape. The main mechanism for extinction was probably fire (started by humans) in a then much less fire-adapted landscape. Isotopic evidence shows sudden changes in the diet of surviving species, which could correspond to the stress they experienced before extinction.   
Evidence in Southeast Asia, in contrast to Europe, Australia, and the Americas, suggests that climate change and an increasing sea level were significant factors in the extinction of several herbivorous species. Alterations in vegetation growth and new access routes for early humans and mammals to previously isolated, localized ecosystems were detrimental to select groups of fauna. 
Some evidence obtained from analysis of the tusks of mastodons from the American Great Lakes region appears inconsistent with the climate change hypothesis. Over a span of several thousand years prior to their extinction in the area, the mastodons show a trend of declining age at maturation. This is the opposite of what one would expect if they were experiencing stresses from deteriorating environmental conditions, but is consistent with a reduction in intraspecific competition that would result from a population being reduced by human hunting. 
Increased temperature Edit
The most obvious change associated with the termination of an ice age is the increase in temperature. Between 15,000 BP and 10,000 BP, a 6 °C increase in global mean annual temperatures occurred. This was generally thought to be the cause of the extinctions.
According to this hypothesis, a temperature increase sufficient to melt the Wisconsin ice sheet could have placed enough thermal stress on cold-adapted mammals to cause them to die. Their heavy fur, which helps conserve body heat in the glacial cold, might have prevented the dumping of excess heat, causing the mammals to die of heat exhaustion. Large mammals, with their reduced surface area-to-volume ratio, would have fared worse than small mammals.
A study covering the past 56,000 years indicates that rapid warming events with temperature changes of up to 16 °C (29 °F) had an important impact on the extinction of megafauna. Ancient DNA and radiocarbon data indicates that local genetic populations were replaced by others within the same species or by others within the same genus. Survival of populations was dependent on the existence of refugia and long distance dispersals, which may have been disrupted by human hunters. 
Arguments against the temperature hypothesis Edit
Studies propose that the annual mean temperature of the current interglacial that we have seen for the last 10,000 years is no higher than that of previous interglacials, yet some of the same large mammals survived similar temperature increases. Therefore, warmer temperatures alone may not be a sufficient explanation.      
In addition, numerous species such as mammoths on Wrangel Island  and St. Paul Island survived in human-free refugia despite changes in climate. This would not be expected if climate change were responsible (unless their maritime climates offered some protection against climate change not afforded to coastal populations on the mainland). Under normal ecological assumptions island populations should be more vulnerable to extinction due to climate change because of small populations and an inability to migrate to more favorable climes. [ citation needed ]
Increased continentality affects vegetation in time or space Edit
Other scientists have proposed that increasingly extreme weather—hotter summers and colder winters—referred to as "continentality", or related changes in rainfall caused the extinctions. The various hypotheses are outlined below.
Vegetation changes: geographic Edit
It has been shown that vegetation changed from mixed woodland-parkland to separate prairie and woodland.    This may have affected the kinds of food available. Shorter growing seasons may have caused the extinction of large herbivores and the dwarfing of many others. In this case, as observed, bison and other large ruminants would have fared better than horses, elephants and other monogastrics, because ruminants are able to extract more nutrition from limited quantities of high-fiber food and better able to deal with anti-herbivory toxins.    So, in general, when vegetation becomes more specialized, herbivores with less diet flexibility may be less able to find the mix of vegetation they need to sustain life and reproduce, within a given area.
Rainfall changes: time Edit
Increased continentality resulted in reduced and less predictable rainfall limiting the availability of plants necessary for energy and nutrition.    Axelrod  and Slaughter  have suggested that this change in rainfall restricted the amount of time favorable for reproduction. This could disproportionately harm large animals, since they have longer, more inflexible mating periods, and so may have produced young at unfavorable seasons (i.e., when sufficient food, water, or shelter was unavailable because of shifts in the growing season). In contrast, small mammals, with their shorter life cycles, shorter reproductive cycles, and shorter gestation periods, could have adjusted to the increased unpredictability of the climate, both as individuals and as species which allowed them to synchronize their reproductive efforts with conditions favorable for offspring survival. If so, smaller mammals would have lost fewer offspring and would have been better able to repeat the reproductive effort when circumstances once more favored offspring survival. 
In 2017 a study looked at the environmental conditions across Europe, Siberia and the Americas from 25,000–10,000 YBP. The study found that prolonged warming events leading to deglaciation and maximum rainfall occurred just prior to the transformation of the rangelands that supported megaherbivores into widespread wetlands that supported herbivore-resistant plants. The study proposes that moisture-driven environmental change led to the megafaunal extinctions and that Africa's trans-equatorial position allowed rangeland to continue to exist between the deserts and the central forests, therefore fewer megafauna species became extinct there. 
Arguments against the continentality hypotheses Edit
Critics have identified a number of problems with the continentality hypotheses.
The extinction of the megafauna could have caused the disappearance of the mammoth steppe. Alaska now has low nutrient soil unable to support bison, mammoths, and horses. R. Dale Guthrie has claimed this as a cause of the extinction of the megafauna there however, he may be interpreting it backwards. The loss of large herbivores to break up the permafrost allows the cold soils that are unable to support large herbivores today. Today, in the arctic, where trucks have broken the permafrost grasses and diverse flora and fauna can be supported.   In addition, Chapin (Chapin 1980) showed that simply adding fertilizer to the soil in Alaska could make grasses grow again like they did in the era of the mammoth steppe. Possibly, the extinction of the megafauna and the corresponding loss of dung is what led to low nutrient levels in modern-day soil and therefore is why the landscape can no longer support megafauna.
It may be observed that neither the overkill nor the climate change hypotheses can fully explain events: browsers, mixed feeders and non-ruminant grazer species suffered most, while relatively more ruminant grazers survived.  However, a broader variation of the overkill hypothesis may predict this, because changes in vegetation wrought by either Second Order Predation (see below)   or anthropogenic fire preferentially selects against browse species. [ citation needed ]
The hyperdisease hypothesis, as advanced by Ross D. E. MacFee and Preston A. Marx, attributes the extinction of large mammals during the late Pleistocene to indirect effects of the newly arrived aboriginal humans.    The hyperdisease hypothesis proposes that humans or animals traveling with them (e.g., chickens or domestic dogs) introduced one or more highly virulent diseases into vulnerable populations of native mammals, eventually causing extinctions. The extinction was biased toward larger-sized species because smaller species have greater resilience because of their life history traits (e.g., shorter gestation time, greater population sizes, etc.). Humans are thought to be the cause because other earlier immigrations of mammals into North America from Eurasia did not cause extinctions. 
Diseases imported by people have been responsible for extinctions in the recent past for example, bringing avian malaria to Hawaii has had a major impact on the isolated birds of the island.
If a disease was indeed responsible for the end-Pleistocene extinctions, then there are several criteria it must satisfy (see Table 7.3 in MacPhee & Marx 1997). First, the pathogen must have a stable carrier state in a reservoir species. That is, it must be able to sustain itself in the environment when there are no susceptible hosts available to infect. Second, the pathogen must have a high infection rate, such that it is able to infect virtually all individuals of all ages and sexes encountered. Third, it must be extremely lethal, with a mortality rate of c. 50–75%. Finally, it must have the ability to infect multiple host species without posing a serious threat to humans. Humans may be infected, but the disease must not be highly lethal or able to cause an epidemic. [ citation needed ]
One suggestion is that pathogens were transmitted by the expanding humans via the domesticated dogs they brought with them,  though this does not fit the timeline of extinctions in the Americas and Australia in particular.
Arguments against the hyperdisease hypothesis Edit
The Second-Order Predation Hypothesis says that as humans entered the New World they continued their policy of killing predators, which had been successful in the Old World but because they were more efficient and because the fauna, both herbivores and carnivores, were more naive, they killed off enough carnivores to upset the ecological balance of the continent, causing overpopulation, environmental exhaustion, and environmental collapse. The hypothesis accounts for changes in animal, plant, and human populations.
The scenario is as follows:
This has been supported by a computer model, the Pleistocene extinction model (PEM), which, using the same assumptions and values for all variables (herbivore population, herbivore recruitment rates, food needed per human, herbivore hunting rates, etc.) other than those for hunting of predators. It compares the overkill hypothesis (predator hunting = 0) with second-order predation (predator hunting varied between 0.01 and 0.05 for different runs). The findings are that second-order predation is more consistent with extinction than is overkill   (results graph at left).
The Pleistocene extinction model is the only test of multiple hypotheses and is the only model to specifically test combination hypotheses by artificially introducing sufficient climate change to cause extinction. When overkill and climate change are combined they balance each other out. Climate change reduces the number of plants, overkill removes animals, therefore fewer plants are eaten. Second-order predation combined with climate change exacerbates the effect of climate change.  (results graph at right).
The second-order predation hypothesis is supported by the observation above that there was a massive increase in bison populations. 
Second-order predation and other theories Edit
Arguments against the second-order predation hypothesis Edit
Arguments against the second-order predation plus climate hypothesis Edit
First publicly presented at the Spring 2007 joint assembly of the American Geophysical Union in Acapulco, Mexico, the comet hypothesis suggests that the mass extinction was caused by a swarm of comets 12,900 years ago. Using photomicrograph analysis, research published in January 2009 has found evidence of nanodiamonds in the soil from six sites across North America including Arizona, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and two Canadian sites. Similar research found nanodiamonds in the Greenland ice sheet.   
Arguments against/for the comet hypothesis Edit
Debate around this hypothesis has included, among other things, the lack of an impact crater, relatively small increased level of iridium in the soil, and the relative probability of such an event. That said, it took 10 years after publication of the Alvarez theory before scientists found the Chicxulub crater. If the bolide struck the Laurentide ice sheet as hypothesized by Firestone et al. (2007), a typical impact crater would not be visible.
A spike in platinum was found in the Greenland ice cores by Petaev et al. (2013), which they view as a global signal.  Confirmation came in 2017 with the report that the Pt spike had been found at "11 widely separated archaeological bulk sedimentary sequences."  Wolbach et al. reported in 2018 that "YDB peaks in Pt were observed at 28 sites" in total, including the 11 reported earlier and the one from Greenland.