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Ancient Hyenas and The First Americans

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the wise-hyenas-come-out-at-eve dept.

Science 41

DrLudicrous writes "ABC is running a story about anthropologist Christy Turner's theory about hyenas, humans and dogs. The idea is that humans were unable to encroach on Alaska, and thus the Americas, thousands of years ago because of gigantic, bone-crushing hyenas, much larger than their African cousins. Eventually, the domestication of dogs somehow provided the first Americans with protection against these beasts, and within a couple of millenia, the ancient hyenas were extinct."

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Silly Hyenas... (4, Funny)

eggstasy (458692) | more than 11 years ago | (#4723577)

Don't you know that we are the humans? The single most advanced species on the surface of the planet?
Look at the pretty opposable thumb! LOOK AT THE THUMB DAMNIT!

Second post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4723583)


I sincerely doubt this (-1, Troll)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | more than 11 years ago | (#4723647)

While Alaska was indeed virgin territory back then, I have serious misgivings about a tale of a "bone-crushing hymen" roaming the land.

Re:I sincerely doubt this (2)

spike hay (534165) | more than 11 years ago | (#4725335)

I read it as that too, PhysicsGenius.

Fun fact: During the ice age, Alaska was in the tropics, hence the hyenas. This was caused by the tilt of the Earth.

Re:I sincerely doubt this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4729248)

Oh come on! Mods on crack...this is hilarious! +1 funny.

Dogs... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4723698)

Can we finally answer the age old question [yahoo.com] "Who let the dogs out?"

Yet another species (0, Troll)

codexus (538087) | more than 11 years ago | (#4723726)

extinct because of humans. We really are the cancer of this planet.

Uh-huh... (1, Troll)

cjhuitt (466651) | more than 11 years ago | (#4723842)

Right. And I bet all of the dinosaur extinctions were our fault as well?

While I admit that modern humans have a large negative impact on many species, I don't think you can realistically blame our ancestors, who had just learned to domesticate dogs, for winning the competition for food and land area. Just as the hyenas probably caused the species before them to die out, because they were better suited for the competition.

It's really nutcases like you that make me think bad thoughts about the larger groups of environmentalists, who are most likely made up of a large number of reasonable people.

Re:Uh-huh... (1)

dmatos (232892) | more than 11 years ago | (#4726180)

Jeez, and I thought his comment was funny...

Guess I should take everything that is said on /. seriously, and become justifiably outraged when obviously tongue-in-cheek comments are made.

Re:Uh-huh... (1)

cjhuitt (466651) | more than 11 years ago | (#4727257)

Well, perhaps heard in person, etc.

We've all heard the excuses about how a text-only medium is hard to interpret, there is no sense transmitted with the message, but only the message itself. He or she probably meant it to be funny. Maybe on another day, I might have found it funny - probably not, but maybe.

As is, though, it still sounds like a troll/extremist. And it looks like I'm not the only one to think so.

Re:blame the ancestors (1)

soupdevil (587476) | more than 11 years ago | (#4726490)

Large mammals in Asia and Africa evolved alongside humans as we gradually developed weapons and hunting skills. Everywhere else we've gone in the last 100,000 years, we've wiped out 90%+ of the large animal species. This is true in the Americas, Australia, Europe, and many of the large islands. The sabertooth tigers, woolly mammoths, giant sloths, hyenas, etc., had survived for millions of years in the Americas, and then all suddenly died out within a few hundred years of the arrival of humans. Coincidence?

Good Heavens man (3, Interesting)

Syncdata (596941) | more than 11 years ago | (#4724005)

extinct because of humans. We really are the cancer of this planet.
Oh yes, what a shame it is that we no longer have packs of 40-50 giant unafraid hyenas scouring the continent. I for one, plan to cry myself to sleep tonight, for the poor, misunderstood giant hyena.
What we did was supplant one pack hunter for another. And I for one, am rooting for the Humans.

Re:Yet another species (1)

Deflagro (187160) | more than 11 years ago | (#4731830)

Not a cancer exactly...more like a virus. Gotta love that line in the Matrix. It's kinda scary how similar we are to viruses. We move to a good environment, use it all up and destroy it, then move on to the next target. Hell we gotta look at other planets now cuz we're almost done with this one. Not realling trolling, it's more of an observation.

Re:Yet another species (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#4749543)

"Almost done with this one"???!

Sheesh! We've barely scratched the surface!

Pet Theory (4, Insightful)

lirkbald (119477) | more than 11 years ago | (#4723801)

This really has the sound of a 'pet theory' to me (no pun intended :-p). This guy really, really, likes hyenas, and therefore concludes that they are the solution to a significant archeological mystery. I mean, really, hyenas aren't the only predators around; why didn't (say) the lions in Africa kill off humans there?

Nothing wrong with pet theories... he's just gonna need more evidence than a dog skull in a hyena cave to prove it.

Re:Pet Theory (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4724184)

why didn't (say) the lions in Africa kill off humans there?

They didn't like the way the niggers smelled? ;)

Re:Pet Theory (3, Interesting)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 11 years ago | (#4724190)

Another problem with the theory is that he thinks there were hyenas becase he found crushed bones. The article did not mention any hyena remains being found. Hyenas don't live on the frozen tundra! Given the evidence, I could just as easily conclude that aliens crushed those bones. Before mutilating cattle, they mutilated humans. Maybe the "hyenas" were their pets, El Chupacabra.

Re:Pet Theory (1)

Conanymous Award (597667) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730598)

"Hyenas don't live on the frozen tundra!"

Of course you don't have or haven't had those African spotted hyenas in Siberia. Those giant hyenas, which the article refers to, did live there. Actually, there were hyenas in Europe, Africa, Asia and N-America during the Pleistocene epoch.

Re:Pet Theory (2, Interesting)

0x69 (580798) | more than 11 years ago | (#4724364)

Look at how well coyotes are doing in America vs. how poorly the (superficially superior) wolf is. How "wild animals vs. man" turns out is more a matter of the animals' MO, attitude, & flexibility than of any sort of fight-in-the-arena Toughness Quotient. A "king of the beasts" that tries standing up to a human tribe's spears & arrows is far less a threat than a cunning bunch of snatch-the-weak-&-run opportunists.

I agree that this theory doesn't have enough evidence behind it to do more than sound interesting. And the "bone crushing" stuff is mostly hype - a hyena's victim is long-gone dead before the bone crushing stage.

When the dogs changed sides (4, Funny)

panurge (573432) | more than 11 years ago | (#4724848)

I'd just like to know when the dogs decided that the humans were going to win, so it was worth becoming domesticated...or did they just hang around people thinking "They're bigger, the hyenas will eat them first?"
I know that, faced with a giant bone-crunching hyena, our dogs would bravely hide behind me and wait to see what happened next.

Re:When the dogs changed sides (1)

NineBall (627668) | more than 11 years ago | (#4724909)

You have to remember that back then, dogs were actually useful, the reason dogs are so crap today is because millions of years of evolution have honed the dog's 'cuteness' for maximum effect, unfortunately this change took place at the expense of everything else.

Re:When the dogs changed sides (-1)

TRoLLaXoR (181585) | more than 11 years ago | (#4727192)

Yup. Dog've been selectively bred my man for millions of years now.


Re:When the dogs changed sides (1)

NineBall (627668) | more than 11 years ago | (#4733007)

Actually I was referring to natural selection, what you referred to is artificial selection.

Re:When the dogs changed sides (-1)

TRoLLaXoR (181585) | more than 11 years ago | (#4734420)

Well, something tells me that evolution hasn't been honing canids for "cuteness" for the last few million.

Call it a hunch.

Re:When the dogs changed sides (1)

NineBall (627668) | more than 11 years ago | (#4734877)

Well, maybe not all of them.

Re:When the dogs changed sides (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4735908)

NineBall: Dogs have only been domesticated for the last 10,000 years. You are a fucking moron.

Congrats goes to the troll that hooked this fool. He didn't even know what you were getting at, did he?

Re:When the dogs changed sides (1)

NineBall (627668) | more than 11 years ago | (#4736318)

Tell me, do you feel secure about your intelligence/sexual orientation/looks/sexual prowess/talent? Because in my experiece, when someone calls someone else gay/retarded/ugly/useless, they are either projecting one of their own flaws, or are simply playing the old game of 'blemish'.

Re:When the dogs changed sides (2, Funny)

Boronx (228853) | more than 11 years ago | (#4726681)

I think it has to do with the fact that the humans would share scraps of their heyena meat, but the hyenas wouldn't let the dogs have any human.

Re:When the dogs changed sides (1)

mattsucks (541950) | more than 11 years ago | (#4727249)

"Hey! We don't have to outrun the hyenas any more, just the humans! This is GREAT!!!!"

Man-eating hyenas? (2)

MacAndrew (463832) | more than 11 years ago | (#4726954)

Humans, hyenas, and dogs -- and these relate to nerds how? Is this like one of those SAT analogy questions? Or are we talking metaphor here? Lets see, the users are humans, the programmers dogs, the bosses hyenas ... or was that users dogs, programmers hyenas, bosses human ... nah, users hyenas, programmers....

It's hard to imagine a sufficiently menacing hyena, or my neighbor's terrier taking it on to protect alpha, but anything's possible.

so let me get this straight (1)

dunedan (529179) | more than 11 years ago | (#4727199)

man is vastly iferior to giant hyenas,

dogs are vastly inferior to humans

hyenas are apperently vastly inferior to dogs

anyone else see problems here?

Good doggie. (1)

Deflagro (187160) | more than 11 years ago | (#4731871)

Hrmm....Bow wow down before your new master? I'm afraid not. But just in case, i can fetch like a pro.

related article (2, Informative)

redfiche (621966) | more than 11 years ago | (#4727420)

on CNN [cnn.com] about how long dogs have been domesticated, and their surprising understanding of humans.

Where's the evidence? (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 11 years ago | (#4742111)

Seeing a dog bone here and there isn't much evidence.

I could also say the humans are the ones enabling the dogs to enter. Not the dogs enabling the humans.

Could be symbiosis but a society smart enough to domesticate dogs would be smart enough to deal with the hyenas. 40 hyenas vs 20 skilled humans with spears and shields, I'd say the humans will win.

As far as I see, if a bunch of animals start to become a problem with humans, the humans may get fed up and start systematically wiping them out. No greenpeace in those days. Most large predators have lost ground to humans in areas with higher order civilisations. Don't see many asiatic lions anymore do you?

Maybe a bunch of East Asians acquired a taste for specially prepared Giant Hyena Stew (especially for weddings and other auspicious events).
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