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Ancient Hyenas and The First Americans 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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Ancient Hyenas and The First Americans

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  • So (Score:5, Funny)

    by dar ( 15755 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:37PM (#4723555) Homepage
    Who's laughing now? Huh?
  • by eggstasy ( 458692 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:39PM (#4723577) Journal
    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!
  • Dogs... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:52PM (#4723698)
    Can we finally answer the age old question [] "Who let the dogs out?"
  • by mattsucks ( 541950 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:00PM (#4723757) Homepage
    Even 14000 years ago, it was a dog-eat-dog world. Or a dog-eat-man world.
  • Pet Theory (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lirkbald ( 119477 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:05PM (#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 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by macdaddy357 ( 582412 )
      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.
      • "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 (Score:2, Interesting)

      by 0x69 ( 580798 )
      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.
  • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:54PM (#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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • related article (Score:2, Informative)

    by redfiche ( 621966 )
    on CNN [] about how long dogs have been domesticated, and their surprising understanding of humans.
  • 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).

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan