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Man and Beast Roundup

March 3, 2006

It’s no secret that we humans aren’t good at living in harmony with nature. But did ancient humans do any better?


Can humans and nature get along? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

As Lewis and Clark trekked across North America, the profusion of geese, elk and other game convinced them that native Americans lived in harmony with wildlife. But University of Utah archaeologist Jack Broughton sifted through layers of bones in ancient garbage heaps. And he found that Native Americans hunted various species to the edge of extinction, just as Europeans did. He says game was plentiful when Lewis and Clark visited only because Native American populations had been devastated by disease epidemics introduced by European explorers.

In other news, a University of Florida researcher reports that there were only four shark-related deaths last year, continuing a trend. He says it’s partly because people are better at defending themselves, and partly because there are just fewer sharks.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.