The eggs of the elephant bird were truly gigantic. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 FunkMonk
The elephant bird, along with some of Madagascar's other megafauna, went extinct around 1,000 years ago.
These huge flightless birds, which resembled giant ostriches, were unique to the island and had thrived there until their untimely disappearance somewhere around 1000-1200 AD.
While the exact cause of their demise has long remained a topic of debate among researchers, it is generally believed that they were hunted to extinction by the first human settlers on the island.
Now though, the discovery of butchered bones dating back 10,500 years has rekindled the debate while pushing back the arrival date of the island's human inhabitants by some 8,000 years.
The find is particularly important because it suggests that humans lived alongside the elephant bird for several thousand years and that the early settlers did not wipe them out as is commonly believed.
Instead, it appears as though it wasn't until relatively recently that the human population of Madagascar hunted the birds to extinction.
According to palaeobiologist David Burney of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii, the findings "fly in the face of all that we thought we knew about human arrival in Madagascar."
Source: Science Magazine | Comments (10)
Madagascar, Elephant Bird