May 18 Evenings at Whitney – Last Mastodons, Last Mammoths: Life and Times of America’s Latest-surviving Proboscideans
The Evenings at Whitney Lecture Series hosted by the University of Florida Whitney Laboratory returned on May 18, 2017, at 7 p.m. with the program titled “Last Mastodons, Last Mammoths: Life and Times of America’s Latest-surviving Proboscideans.” Flagler College Professor of Anthropology Lee Newsom talked about her research on mastodons and mammoths, mammals that became extinct several thousand years ago. This free lecture was presented at Lohman Auditorium located at 9505 Ocean Shore Blvd., on the Whitney Laboratory campus.
Newsom is an environmental archaeologist with an emphasis on paleoethnobotany, the interaction between humans and plants. She finds clues in preserved plant remains – leaves, fruits, seeds and wood – from the archaeological and paleontological sites she examines to help reveal details about the environment and the lives of the people and animals that lived in those locations. This presentation focused on two species of ancient elephants or proboscideans, the woolly mammoth and the American mastodon, drawing on recent projects that examine some of the latest evidence for their presence. Newsom talked about ongoing debates on the timing and causes underlying the extinctions of such animals. Principal arguments range from human overhunting to climate change and even extra-terrestrial impacts. Such research provides a greater understanding of the historical relationships between humans, ancient megafauna and paleoenvironments.
Newsom is emerita faculty of the Department of Anthropology at The Pennsylvania State University and a MacArthur Fellow. She arrived in St. Augustine to teach at Flagler College in fall 2016. At Flagler College, she teaches students about archaeology in both the classroom and field. Newsom has more than 30 years experience as an archeologist. Most of her research is focused in Florida, the Caribbean Islands and Cuba. She received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate in anthropology from the University of Florida. Newsom also co-authored a book with Elizabeth Wing, emerita faculty at the University of Florida, about environmental archaeology in the Caribbean.
Photo credit: Flagler College