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Palaeontology

Did humans wipe out Australia's megafauna ?

January 22, 2017 | Comment icon 5 comments



Was human hunting responsible for wiping out Australia's megafauna ? Image Credit: PD - Karora
A new study has cast doubt on the idea that climate change wiped out most of Australia's huge beasts.
When the ancestors of today's Aboriginal Australians first arrived on the continent they would have encountered a landscape dominated by a menagerie of prehistoric giants including wombats the size of rhinos, 7ft-tall kangaroos and even giant lizards which could grow up to 20ft in length.

Sadly though, these remarkable creatures - which were known as megafauna - disappeared around 45,000 years ago and scientists have long been attempting to figure out why.

The most widely accepted theory suggests that these huge animals were wiped out by a major shift in the climate, but now a new study lead by Monash University in Victoria and the University of Colorado Boulder has found that human hunting was more likely to have been responsible.
The researchers discovered evidence of the fungus Sporormiella - something that was known to have grown in the waste of plant-eating mammals - in sediment cores from the Indian Ocean.

"The abundance of these spores is good evidence for a lot of large mammals on the southwestern Australian landscape up until about 45,000 years ago," said Professor Gifford Miller.

The idea therefore that these animals had gradually died out after the landscape in southwestern Australia changed from woodland to arid desert 70,000 years ago seemed to be incorrect.

"Having eliminated climate as the primary cause of extinction, we turn to consideration of human causation, of which hunting is most favoured as extinction driver," the researchers wrote.

Source: Tech Times | Comments (5)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Parsec 5 years ago
Rather than on the "why" , I'm more fascinated right now by the "what".  It sure had to be a spectacle back then.    I wonder, considering the relative short distance in time that separates us from them, if it would be feasible with our current technology realise a "megafauna park", instead of a jurassic one.    I reckon it would still make tons of money.  For sure they'd have mine! 
Comment icon #2 Posted by oldrover 5 years ago
Mine too, marsupials are much better than dinosaurs anyway.    No, sadly not, they've abandoned the thylacine cloning programme because it's just beyond us at the moment. That's specifically about Australian megafauna though. They might be able to manage the mammoth though, but then I think you could just glue fluff on an Asain elephant and get the same effect. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Thorvir 5 years ago
I've understood for a very long time now that it is accepted that humans helped to wipe out Australia's big animals.
Comment icon #4 Posted by docyabut2 5 years ago
Anyone knows it was over kill by homo sapiens that did them in:(Killing out all herds and not thinking of keeping them to produce them for more food.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Carnoferox 5 years ago
I found it ironic how New Agers often claim that our distant ancestors were always so "in-tune" with nature, yet they still contributed to the extinction of dozens of large animal species across the globe just like modern humans.


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