Mass Death
A Trip Back to an Extinction
By Olivia Nikkari


A mastodon starves. Then another. And another. The cold climate changes. A mastodon herd ceases to exist. Tuberculosis weakens a few. Predators take them. This is 10000-9000 B.C., the years when mastodons started to die off. We find their remains today in groups and wonder, is this always the case? states that “Clovis tribe were skilled hunters of huge animals, especially Ice Age mammoths and mastodons.” Is it possible that perhaps that they killed a group of mastodons at a time? says “Around 10,500 years ago, Clovis abruptly vanish from the archaeological record, replaced by a myriad of different local hunter-gatherer cultures. Why this happened no one knows but their disappearance coincides with the mass extinction of Ice Age big-game animals, leading to speculation that Clovis people either overhunted these mammals and drove them into extinction or over-hunting eliminated a "keystone species" (usually the mammoth or mastodon)” So the Clovis people could be a factor in this mystery.

Mastodons are theorized to have also died from a change in their preferably cold climate or a “shortage” in the shrubs and vegetation they eat (starvation). Another interesting factor has also been suggested, tuberculosis. Mr. Rothschild says, “Tuberculosis causes grooved erosion in bones. While the disease didn't kill the ancient animals directly, it certainly weakened them.” This leads me to believe predators killed them.

Starvation, change in climate, predators. All these may take many at a time. I believe we can safely assume that yes, mastodon fossils are usually found in groups.

Images URLs and Attributions
Heinrich Harder (1858-1935)
Saku Takakusaki.