In my previous post, Mapping Clovis Man vs Mammoths – Just Asking, I’d asked about the apparent blind spot in Clovis-Mammoth studies. The maps there showed Clovis artifacts VERY predominantly in the Eastern USA, yet amazingly, the only “Clovis sites” chosen for study in Waguespack & Surovell 2003 were sites specifically showing mammoth kills.
Later, in Surovell & Waguespack 2007, the authors say
Using the most lenient and problematic standard of Proboscidean use, simple presence in zooarcheological assemblages, we previously estimated that at least 91 individual mammoths and mastodons are known from a total of 26 Clovis sites (Waguespack and Surovell, 2003, Table 2). Based on available data, no other taxon is present in as many sites or is represented by as many individuals.
My initial problem here has to be their amazing definition of a “Clovis site.” Here, is a different map of artifacts in the USA:
Now, when we read about the Leakeys finding pre-human artifacts in the Olduvai Gorge, the places they are found are normally called “sites” or “digs”. Now maybe Surovell defines sites as some activity, not just a Clovis point. I would heartily disagree. But let’s not quibble too much, because we don’t have to. Look at the map of Clovis artifacts here. Let’s also assume that the website’s authors weren’t stupid enough to just make that map up out of their imaginations. If we go with Surovell’s idea of a “site”, then a stray Clovis point may have been dropped somewhere along a trail, not at a campsite. Still, in a world where all travel is on foot, that dropped point is not going to be more than 20 miles from whatever campsites might be used. By point population alone, it is clear from the map that the careless Clovis hunters were hunting in the regions shown – in both the East and the West. Continue reading
I’ve been reading a paper, Wagespack and Surovell 2003, as a starting point to see what Surovell’s other papers are about. His paper attempting to shoot down the Younger Dryas Impact hypothesis was pretty bad science, since he was incapable of following test protocols, so when I got a line on some of his other papers, I decided to see what kind of work he normally does.
In this paper I am seeing that he makes an awful lot of assumptions, ones he thinks are reasonable. But his selection of data is dumbfounding. He seems to just make shit up, too, such as a table on what the average density of mammals large and small over the whole of the USA. With the vast array of ecosystems slash environments in the USA, it is unfathomable that anyone would make up ONE table and give ONE average density and think it could or would apply to the entire country. One of the oddest things about it is that it includes both Asian elephants and African elephants – but does NOT include mammoths – the subject of his paper.
To cut to the chase, let’s show some maps…
I LOVE this map! Except for a few regions (which may be a long term sampling problem) you might match this up quite well with maps of population density in North America in modern times. Does this mean, I wonder, if Paleo-Indians were as bright as we are in terms of livable land? Also, note the quite dense artifact density in the Southeastern and Appalachian regions. (source: http://pidba.org/content/PIDBA%20Figure%2001.jpg)
And here, Surovell’s/Waguespack’s map, discussing the hunting preferences of Clovis Man, which purportedly is discussing how Clovis Man might have hunted other game than mammoths and mastodons. Note that ewre the most PEOPLE (artifacts) are found, Surovell and Waguespack don’t show ANY sites studied. They ONLY show them in the regions where mammoth bones and mastodon bones have been found.