Dan Flores, author, "Wild New World," "Coyote America"
Air Dates: January 7-9, 2023
This week's guest on REPORT FROM SANTA FE is historian and author Dan Flores discussing his new book "Wild New World: The Epic Story of Animals and People in America."
Distinguished author Dan Flores’s ambitious history chronicles the epoch in which humans and animals have co-existed in the “wild new world” of North America—a place shaped both by its own grand evolutionary forces and by momentous arrivals from Asia, Africa, and Europe. With portraits of iconic creatures such as mammoths, horses, wolves, and bison, Flores describes the evolution and historical ecology of North America as never before.
The arrival of humans precipitated an extraordinary disruption of this teeming environment. Flores treats humans not as a species apart, but as a new animal entering two continents that had never seen our likes before. He shows how our long past as carnivorous hunters helped us settle America, initially establishing a coast-to-coast culture that lasted longer than the present United States. But humanity’s success had devastating consequences for other creatures.
Flores focuses on three New Mexico sites that have been major contributors to this epic story of man and animal. The Folsom Site in northeastern New Mexico revealed the first time archaeologists discovered the presence of humans with extinct animals in America when they found a Folsom point embedded in the spinal column of a dead giant bison. Clovis, in eastern New Mexico, with its famed archaeological site Blackwater Draw, revealed an even older culture than Folsom, and which basically consisted of people who specialized in hunting mammoths and mastodons. And White Sands revealed human footprints from 23,000 years ago.
In telling this epic story, Flores traces the origins of today’s “Sixth Extinction” to the spread of humans around the world; tracks the story of a hundred centuries of Native America; explains how Old World ideologies precipitated 400 years of market-driven slaughter that devastated so many ancient American species; and explores the decline and miraculous recovery of species in recent decades.
Dan Flores is A. B. Hammond Professor Emeritus of Western History at the University of Montana. A distinguished historian of the American West, he is the author of the best-selling books Coyote America and American Serengeti. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.