All of the last week’s quotes are from the same non-fiction book, Once and Future Giants by Sharon Levy. Rather than my usual “who said it under what circumstances” I’m just going to give extended quotes this week, with the part tweeted in italics.
“Conventional wisdom long held that the megafauna fell victim to a warming climate at the end of the last glacial peak of the Ice Age. According to this theory, rising temperatures led to changes in vegetation, altering habitat in ways that proved fatal to many large herbivores and in turn to the dire wolves, American lions, and saber-toothed cats that had preyed on them. Today many scientists believe ancient people were responsible for the extinctions, an idea raised with dramatic flair by paleoecologist Paul Martin.
“From the beginning, people have seen what they wanted to see in the bones of America’s extinct monsters. The devout seventeenth-century colonists who found the first pair of mastodon molars were convinced that they had discovered the remains of a human giant, proof that the David and Goliath story was true.”
“Healthy populations of giant herbivores shape the landscapes that sustain them. But the mastodon at the close of the Pleistocene was so rare it was environmentally insignificant.”
“Seeds that drop to earth beneath the parent’s canopy are doomed: easy targets for predators such as rodents and insects that swarm around fruiting trees. The few that survive to sprout will be shaded to death by the tree that produced them.”
“The clash between elephants and people is as old as our species. To hold on in the long run, elephants need that precious commodity, land.
“Cats, large or small, are the ultimate carnivores: they have lost most of their cheek teeth, except for two or three carnassials that slice against each other, ripping meat away from tendon and bone. A cat’s mouth was made to eat meat and little else.”
“Whoever back at headquarters had come up with the color-coding scheme should try to live with it.” Sue Ann Bowling, Tourist Trap. Penny’s thoughts. The color coding was applied both to the clothing of clients and to the collars, harnesses, and dogsleds – but the two sets of coding caused some major color clashes.