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Extinction of Australian Megafauna due to Humans, not Climate Change


The organic waste of an astonishing creature from Australia that was extinct 45,000 years ago, revealed the extinction’s primary reason as humans and not the climate change.

This creature belongs to the Australian megafauna collection, which collects traces of animals that once existed 50,000 years ago. The creature takes its place along with 25-foot lizards, 400-pound birds, and 1,000-pounds kangaroos.

The sediment core that was found in research allowed scientists -from Monash University in Victoria, Australia, and the University of Colorado Boulder- to look back to more than 150,000 years.  There were rarely abundant fungal spores in a herbivore mammal’s organic waste. The research related to the discovery was published in Nature Communications on January 20th.

The ocean sediment core revealed that the southwest of the Australian continent had very dense forests 45,000 years ago. It is expected that humans existed in the region along with animals. Added that there is no evidence from a climate change during the megafauna extinction, humans may have hunted these animals to extinction during the earliest colonization, approximately 50,000 years ago. Yet, there is also the possibility that a combination of excessive hunting and climate change could have affected the extinction.

The excessive hunting, however, does not have the same meaning of today. According to a 2006 study by Australian researchers, simply hunting one mammal per person in a decade, can cause extinction in a few hundred years.

To base and prove this theory, CU Boulder Professor Gifford Miller uses other evidence, like a burned eggshell of the 400-pound bird, Genyornis. The eggshell is considered to be the first evidence of Australian megafauna hunting.

This new discovery shook the Australian and global science community to the core, as climate change might not be the only factor in animal or megafauna extinction. The evidence from the ocean sediment can be a new way of looking for the other reasons of extinction.

via [eurekalert]

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  1. Not sure it “shook the Australian and global science community to the core,” (what a tabloid speak) humans have long been known as the ultimate predator, but it sure adds to our scientific knowledge. Climate change wasn’t impacting fauna and flora until very recently, agriculture, deforestation and hunting were chief culprits before now, and probably other human causes too.


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