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UW Professor to Discuss Extinction of Ice Age Mammals at AMK Ranch

July 25, 2014

A University of Wyoming anthropologist will argue that human predation caused the extinction of Ice Age mammals in Wyoming and elsewhere during a public presentation Thursday, July 31, at the UW-National Park Service (UW-NPS) Research Center at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park.

This week’s Harlow Summer Seminars speaker is Todd Surovell, UW Department of Anthropology faculty member and director of UW’s George C. Frison Institute. He will discuss “What Happened to Wyoming’s Mammoths?” at 6:30 p.m. at the AMK Ranch, located north of Leeks Marina. A barbecue, at a cost of $5 per person, will take place at 5:30 p.m.

Reservations are not required. For more information, call the UW-NPS Center at (307) 543-2463.

Humans first arrived in North America about 14,000 years ago and, shortly thereafter, the continent lost more than 30 Pleistocene species including mammoths, mastodons, camels, horses and ground sloths. Fossil remains of many of these animals have been found in Wyoming. Debate about the cause of the extinctions continues, with suggested causes including human hunting, climate change, disease and extraterrestrial impact.

“I will argue that only the overkill hypothesis, the idea that Pleistocene extinctions were driven by human predation of Ice Age mammals, can explain not only the North American extinction event but also similar events worldwide,” Surovell says.

Surovell, who received his graduate degrees from the University of Arizona, specializes in the archaeology of hunter-gatherers and the first peoples of the New World. He has done field work in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona, Wisconsin, Denmark and Israel. He commonly uses mathematical modeling, computer simulation and geoarchaeological methods in his work.

The UW-NPS Research Center provides a base for university faculty members and government scientists from throughout North America to conduct research in the diverse aquatic and terrestrial environments of Grand Teton National Park and the greater Yellowstone area.

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