Faunal Extinction in an Island Society: Pygmy Hippopotamus by Alan H. Simmons

By Alan H. Simmons

The multidisciplinary examine application at Akrotiri Aetokremnos is critical, in my op- ion, for 3 purposes: empirical and one conceptual. really except the archaeology, paintings on the website is an important contribution to island biogeography, in that the Phanourios sample—certainly the easiest from Cyprus and possibly the easiest at any place within the world—has already supplied, and may proceed to supply, very important ecological and behavioral facts on those exciting creatures. Dwarfed island faunas are vital to our figuring out of the advanced components that form average choice in ecologically closed environments over the evolutionary long-term. At Aetokremnos, we appear to have the “end” of a protracted series of hippo evolution at the island. With comparative reviews of alternative Cypriot hippo faunas, we should always be ready to pin down the period of preliminary colonization by means of what have been, pres- ably, normal-sized hippos, and—if the opposite websites might be dated—document the dwarfing technique in huge element. Aetokremnos could nonetheless be an important paleontological - cality, even within the absence of facts of a human presence there. whereas interpreting the textual content of the monograph, a couple of questions strictly with regards to the paleontology happened to me. One was once the way to version the colonization method. There looks little doubt that the big mammals colonized the island through swimming to it (because, I assemble, Cyprus has no longer been attached to the mainland for about 5–6 m- lion years).

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In addition, Sondaar and Spaar found “about a dozen chipped stones” in 1994 (Reese 1995:86), but I also have not seen these. There are three dates for the site (see Chap. 8, Table 8-6): these are intriguing, as they suggest a rough contemporanity with Aetokremnos. Although at present there is little to convincingly indicate that Arkhangelos Mikhail is a cultural site, it is one of the few fossil localities that falls out of the normal pattern and contains tantalizing hints of a cultural association.

Stockton noted abundant waste materials as well as over a hundred tools. ” He also noted the presence of a heavily patinated bifacial “chopper-like” tool, a possible awl, and two small geometrical pieces, one of which was triangular and the other rectangular. The last was “quite the more convincing” (Stockton 1968:18). If these were real microlithic artifacts, they would be important because such artifacts often are a diagnostic implement of the Epipaleolithic; unfortunately, the illustrations (Stockton 1968:Plate VII) show very crude objects unlikely to be microliths.

He apparently has, however, somewhat modified this view (Cherry 1990). The flaw that I find with the argument of resource scarcity is that we know of the remarkable resilience of humans adapting to extreme environments: if preagriculturalists could live in, for example, the deserts of the American West or Australia, it is hard to believe that hunters and gatherers could not have eked out some existence on many of the Mediterranean islands. While true Paleolithc occupation of Cyprus may, in fact, be unlikely, the possibility of antecedent Neolithic groups must be considered, especially because the Neolithic appears with little or no suggestion of developmental phases.

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