It is theorized that human activity was responsible for mass extinctions occurring from the late Pleistocene[1], and human activity is known to be responsible for mass extinctions to the present day. The anthropocene extinction event,[2] anthropocene mass extinction[3] or sixth mass extinction[4] are terms which have been used to describe the Pleistocene anthropogenic (due to human activity) extinctions, and hypothesized projections of future events.

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Influence of the Anthropocene Edit

The Anthropocene is the period in Earth's history where the results of human activity became a major influence upon ecosystems such that it is distinguished from the contemporary Pleistocene, Quaternary period, and Holocene. Extinction of animals and plants caused by human actions may go as far back as the late Pleistocene. If a strict delineation of geologic ages as being unable to overlap is held to, then paradoxically, human-driven extinctions may therefore pre-date the Anthropocene.

The extinction of megaherbivores in the late Pleistocene is explained by one of two hypotheses, or a combination of the two: climate change, and the ecological impact of early humans. Not only hunting, but anthropogenic fire selected for the survival of ruminants more than the survival of browsing, and against carnivores and scavengers which fed on both.[5][6][7]

Geologic time periods influenced Edit

See Wikipedia:Quaternary extinction event, Wikipedia:Pleistocene extinction event, Wikipedia:Holocene extinction event
  • Quaternary period, which encompasses the Pleistocene and Holocene epochs.
  • Pleistocene epoch
  • Holocene epoch

Although they are most strictly defined in terms of geologic processes, this period and its epochs lend their names to the more common designations of extinction instances in this time frame.


  1. doi |10.1130/GSAT01802A.1}}
  2. Wooldridge, S. A. (9 June 2008). "Mass extinctions past and present: a unifying hypothesis". Copernicus. 2401–2423. 
  3. cite doi 10.1073/pnas.0802812105}}
  4. cite doi 10.1073/pnas.0801921105}}
  5. Martin P. S. (1963). "The last 10,000 years: A fossil pollen record of the American Southwest". Tucson, AZ: Univ. Ariz. Press. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  6. Martin P. S. (1967). "Prehistoric overkill. In Pleistocene extinctions: The search for a cause (ed. P.S. Martin and H.E. Wright)". New Haven: Yale Univ. Press. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  7. Martin P. S. (1989). "Prehistoric overkill: A global model. In Quaternary extinctions: A prehistoric revolution (ed. P.S. Martin and R.G. Klein)". Tucson, AZ: Univ. Arizona Press. pp. 354–404. Template:Citation/identifier.