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The Better to Eat You WithFear in the Animal World$
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Joel Berger

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226043630

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226043647.001.0001

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A Continent of Virgins and Recent Ghosts

A Continent of Virgins and Recent Ghosts

Chapter:
(p.150) chapter 9 A Continent of Virgins and Recent Ghosts
Source:
The Better to Eat You With
Author(s):

Joel Berger

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226043647.003.0010

Africa has been called the living Pleistocene. Only there do vast herds of wildebeest and gazelles, zebra and giraffes still sweep across spacious savannas. Only there do large carnivores persist in assemblages as diverse as they had been in the past. Unlike other continents, Africa has retained 85 percent of the large mammals that lived between 11,000 and 50,000 years ago. In contrast, North America's spectacular megafauna collapsed well before the twentieth century. An estimated 73 percent of the species larger than a hundred pounds vanished between nine thousand and thirteen thousand years ago. The extinct were browsers and grazers—a half dozen species of elephants, llamas and camels, two types of peccary, and three kinds of horses. Disappearing also were the predators and scavengers—the dire wolf, the short-faced bear, the atrox lion, the American cheetah.

Keywords:   Africa, North America, Pleistocene, large mammals, predators, scavengers, extinction, grazers

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