THE PALEO DIET … this is something you may have heard before. It’s a special course of only vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and of course lean meats. And it’s all the rage today! But have you ever wondered where it came from?
The Greek word “Paleo” means ancient … and boy is this diet ancient. About 12,000 years ago to be exact. This was around the time when the first people migrated to our continent. They were called the Clovis people, and were hunters and gatherers who foraged the land for plant foods and harvested large wild game. How large? VERY large …. Clovis hunters were specialized at bringing down wooly mammoths!
Wooly mammoths were prehistoric elephants that roamed the tundra landscapes of North America. They evolved in Asia during the Pliocene Era about 3 – 5 million years ago, and eventually migrated to our continent 1.8 million years ago. They were adapted to live in harsh artic conditions, and had furry pelts and tiny ears to minimize heat loss. Mammoths were two times taller than your dad, and weighed about EIGHT TONS. Just one mammoth could feed your clan all winter long … and give you fur and bones to make clothes, tools and shelter to survive.
Mammoths sound pretty critical for Clovis people … but they are one of the largest animals from the ice age! So how in the world did Clovis people manage to get mammoth meat for their diets? While some paleo hunters scavenged mammoth meat from wild predator kills, most hunters brought them down with their spears. Ummm … hunting with a stick? That had to be a lot of work, right? Definitely. Using a spear meant you had to get really close to the animal, which could be very dangerous. Think about it! The animal could hit you, pick you up with it’s trunk, or trample you .… Hunting with spears was a lot of risk. Yet, because clans depended greatly on the meat, they had to make innovations and be creative. So they created Atlatls! Atlatls attach to the end of a spear and allow you to throw them faster and longer than you could by hand. Now that’s pretty smart.
You have to wonder though … Were there other animals they hunted? And how come we don’t see mammoths around anymore? Did Clovis kids impact our wildlife today? Harvest those answers for yourself by watching the video. And if you hustle over to the lesson activity below, you and your peers will investigate how to conserve a “recently discovered” woolly mammoth herd!
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