Some say that one of the reason humans developed agriculture is because megafauna (specifically the Pleistocene megafauna) were hunted for food to extinction and humans were forced to develop agriculture to survive, or that the lack of megafauna means no competition for humans to develop agriculture.

Ignoring other possible reasons like climate change killing off megafauna and creating suitable conditions for crops, is it possible for humans to develop agriculture while most megafauna are still around? And how would agriculture affect those megafauna?

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    $\begingroup$ Megafauna like elephants coexist with agriculture in Africa and India today. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Nov 20 '19 at 4:12
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    $\begingroup$ My understanding of current archaeological thinking is that agriculture wasn't developed by desperate hunter-gatherers on the brink of starvation; rather, it was developed by very successful hunter-gatherers who had the spare time and resources the spend on experimentation. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Nov 20 '19 at 4:16
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    $\begingroup$ megafauna aren't that mega, to be honest. Almost every continent has large herbivores (elephant, bison, auroch, buffalo, horse, etc) which are only 10-25% smaller than their extinct relative. $\endgroup$ – Thỏ Già Nov 20 '19 at 5:52
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    $\begingroup$ Curious theory, but no. Agriculture had started in the areas where megafauna was not a factor, if present at all. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Nov 20 '19 at 7:39
  • $\begingroup$ you do realize most of the current megafauna is pleistocene megafauna. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 20 '19 at 14:13


Fences can keep out megafauna but the key to doing it successfully is plenty of space and not many humans.

If you look at Africa, farmers use beehives and thorn bushes to protect crops from elephants

See Comparing the effectiveness of beehive fences to thorn barriers in farm invasions and exits by elephants

The real problem is too many people requiring too much land and pushing out and hunting to extinction of megafauna

If humans domesticated some of the megafauna, it could open up more agricultural options.

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    $\begingroup$ Imagine domesticated giant Moa's. Chocobo mounts and big chicken wings. $\endgroup$ – Robin Nov 20 '19 at 7:39


Agriculture is still able to be developed with the existance of megafauna. It's a matter of keeping the megafauna away from the farms that dictates the agriculture. If your people are able to set up some sort of barrier and herd the animals away, then your farms are able to grow and thrive.

If this is in the agricultural revolution-era, than it will be slightly more difficult. Your people could build wooden walls, or wooden spike barriers around the farms.

The megafauna issue could and would be difficult. Your people could do a variety of things- like herding(as mentioned above) or domestication. Domestication would be the most efficient, though also the most difficult. Herding would be the more realistic option. Like we do with cattle today, group them up in areas with more other megafauna and keep them in those areas.

  • $\begingroup$ heck in some place domiescation happened first. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 20 '19 at 14:12

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