Tribute to Paul S. Martin
Pleistocene Ecologist (1928 - 2010)

assembled by Connie Barlow


PAUL S. MARTIN made major contributions to the fields of Pleistocene ecology and evolutionary ecology.

In 1999, Connie Barlow recorded a 66-minute AUDIO INTERVIEW with Paul at his home in Tucson, AZ. There he talked about how he had come to three of his major ideas:

(1) "Pleistocene Overkill" (theory of why Ice Age megafauna of the Americas suddenly went extinct) begins 2:28 min

(2) "Pleistocene Rewilding" (then known as "Bring Back" the camels/elephants) begins 38:42 min; focuses on elephants 52:10

(3) "Ecological Anachronisms" (based on a paper co-authored with Dan Janzen in 1982, titled "Fruits the Gomphotheres Ate") begins 55:30 mins

Note: This interview was inspired by Connie's reading Paul's classic 1992 essay published in WildEarth, "The Last Entire Earth," which (sadly) is not available online. In that essay Paul wrote: "To behold the Grand Canyon without thoughts of its ancient sloths, goats, and condors is to be half-blind." A previous interview of Paul by Connie was excerpted on pages 115 and 133-140 in her 1997 book, Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science.


   Paul S. Martin was a major mentor for Connie Barlow. She met him over the phone in 1996, while interviewing him for her 1997 book, Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science (which contains several pages of their recorded dialogue). Paul wrote the foreword to her 2001 book, The Ghosts of Evolution, and he coauthored their 2004 paper, "Bring Torreya Taxifolia North — Now!" (or here, which was the first advocacy piece favoring assisted migration for threatened plants stressed by climate change).

Connie contributed a companion advocacy article to Paul's (and coauthor David Burney's) "Bring Back the Elephants" piece in the 1999 issue of Wild Earth magazine. Connie's essay was titled, "Rewilding for Evolution". Note: The two essays are reprinted as chapters within the book, Wild Earth.

Paul also envisioned America's first "Mammoth Memorial Service", which he and Connie jointly produced at the Mammoth Site in South Dakota in 1999. (See photos below.)

LEFT: Paul holding mummified dung of the extinct Shasta Ground Sloth.

Paul S. Martin and Connie Barlow, 1998.

LISTEN to a portion of the historic
which was held at the Mammoth Site
in Hot Springs, South Dakota, 1999 (right),
and you can also listen to the closing hymn.


   Connie Barlow contributed a eulogy to Paul S. Martin:

"Tribute to the Man Who Gave Me Deep-Time Eyes: Paul S. Martin".

LEFT: Paul Martin alongside Connie, who is modeling a replica of the jaw of America's extinct giant short-faced bear.

LISTEN to the hour-long INTERVIEW that Connie recorded of Paul in 1999. There he talks about Pleistocene overkill, Pleistocene Rewilding, and Ecological Anachronisms.

READ an interview of Paul in American Scientist on overkill and Pleistocene rewilding. Also, access in PDF the 2005 "Re-Wilding North America" commentary in Nature, for which Paul was a coauthor. A terrific popular overview of Paul's overkill and rewilding ideas (and the ongoing work of his younger colleagues) is a 2006 essay by writer Sharon Levy, published in OnEarth magazine: "Mammoth Mystery".

    LEFT: Paul S. Martin and Columbian Mammoth.

In the late 1970s, ecologist Dan Janzen recruited Pleistocene ecologist Paul S. Martin to collaborate on looking at which animals likely coevolved with a number of Costa Rican dry-forest plants to disperse their large seeds. Thus was born the idea of "anachronistic fruits" and "missing ghost partners". Janzen and Martin's classic paper on this theme appeared in a 1982 issue of the journal Science. Its title, "Neotropical Anachronisms: The Fruits the Gomphotheres Ate".

RIGHT: Connie Barlow in Arizona, pointing to what she proposes are "anachronistic" seed pods of a tall species of yucca, which likely coevolved to entice American camels to pluck the fruit, swallow the seeds whole, and thus disperse the species.



Above: Connie tests an American Honey Locust pod on an Indian Black Rhino.

Left: Connie tests big-seeded Kentucky Coffee Tree pods (Gymnocladus) on an Indian Black Rhino living free-range in southern Ohio. The rhino chomped and swallowed all dozen of the sweet-smelling pods that it was offered (through the open window of a caretaker's truck). Ecstatic, Connie declared, "This is the first time in 5 million years that Gymnocladus has been reunited with the lineage of its probable earliest dispersal agent!"

To learn more about Connie's use of the Janzen & Martin "anachronistic" paradigm in her quest to understand Kentucky Coffee Tree, visit her photo-essay, "Arkansas River Pleistocene Dreamtime", or consult her book, The Ghosts of Evolution.

Online available papers by Connie stimulated by the Janzen & Martin paper include:

  • "Anachronistic Plants and the Ghosts Who Haunt Them"
  • "Ghost Stories from the Ice Age"
  • "Haunting the Wild Avocado"
  • "Botanical Ghosts of Evolution

  •      Click the VIDEO at right for a 5-minute, visually rich (and playful!) introduction to the theme of Connie's 2001 book, The Ghosts of Evolution. Paul Martin wrote the foreword to that book, which is based on his joint work with ecologist Dan Janzen.

    Paul's Foreword in PDF (2 pp.)

    ENTIRE BOOK FREELY AVAILABLE for online reading

    This video is dedicated to Paul S. Martin, and is a tribute to his inspiring and important legacy in Pleistocene ecology and evolutionary ecology.


    RIGHT: "Paul S. Martin, Pleistocene Ecologist: Colleagues Honor His Science Legacy, 2011" is a 50-minute illustrated and tightly edited version of a special remembrance held in his honor a year after his death. Seven science colleagues present tributes to Paul:

  • Tom Martin "Childhood Memories" (0:44)
  • Jim King "The Pollen Years" (7:31)
  • Geoff Spaulding "Packrat Middens and Pleistocene Vegetation" (15:47)
  • Gary Haynes "Overkill and Pleistocene Extinctions" (19:27)
  • Alberto Burquez "Rio Mayo Plants" (22:38)
  • Tom Van Devender "Natural History of the Southwest" (30:00)
  • David Burney "Pleistocene Rewilding" (35:00)
  • Connie Barlow "Bring Back the Elephants" (45:36)

         The VIDEO LEFT was posted on the YouTube channel RandallVictoria, and is a tribute to Paul Martin. The singer-songwriter uses the tune of John Lennon's "Imagine" in this tribute.

    See also these tributes to Paul S. Martin:

  • tribute by Donlan and Greene

    (Josh co-wrote with Paul, "Role of Ecological History in Invasive Species Management and Conservation by C. Josh Donlan and Paul S. Martin, Conservation Biology, 1 February 2004

  • tribute by David Steadman

  • tribute by Baz Edmeades - focusing on Paul Martin's 1966 paper "Africa and Pleistocene Overkill"; with links to Edmeades's online book, "Megafauna: First Victims of the Human-Caused Extinction.

  • "Bison Dung, Prairie Plants, and Mammoth Inferences" - ongoing research by Jacquelyn Gill "documenting the cascading effects of the loss of large herbivores on the plant communities they left behind."
  • Photos by Connie Barlow. No permission required for you to use any of these photos. Just drag onto your computer for a 640-width (this is the highest resolution available, as they came off a videocamera tape) filmed at Paul's home in Tucson AZ.

    WACO MAMMOTH SITE (Texas) opens to the public in 2009 (Click links below)

  • "The Trees that Miss the Mammoths" by Whit Bronaugh, in Winter 2010 American Forests.

  • VIDEO: "The Ghosts of Evolution" 5-minute episode in PBS "It's Okay To Be Smart" youtube series (2013).

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