Walking with Beasts

History is not about memorizing facts
ape to man to computer
What counts as an explanation in history?
Crosby wants to say--pay attention to these explanations that have usually been left out
ecology can be both a cause and the thing whose change needs to be explained
ecology is both the cause and the effect
colonial farming
So why did European flora, fauna, and people displace those native in the neo-Europes?
Why wasn't it a more even exchange?
ecologists tell use we can't jut say that European plants and animals were better (because the only "better" is that they are better adapted to a particular environment)
instead it worked because the pieces of the European ecosystem fit together and because Europeans transformed the land

Why was that dramatic ecological revolution possible?
  1. because the neo-Europes were isolated ecosystems
  2. because the extinction of the megafauna had left ecosystems with empty niches
  3. the Europeans created the conditions that favored their plants and animals

did the first humans kill off those large animals?
Europeans created the conditions that led to ecological change
Some extinction happened before the Europeans arrived, but some the Europeans did: once the European settlers arrived they killed off the competing animals in the great plains

railroad passengers shooting buffalo
railroad passengers shooting Buffalo
other reasons for the success of European plants and animals--some of it happened without human beings changing the ecosystem on purpose
Two explanations so far: what happened before the Europeans arrive (partly human action) and the action of Europeans in hunting

Fundamentally there is the action of the Europeans here
effect--success of European colonization

This page written and copyright Pamela E. Mack
last updated 2/5/10
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