from Andrew Gach -
Disproving previous theories that climate change,
disease or a gradual change in habitat led to the extinction of most of
the large animals in Australia and the Americas, researchers can now
firmly place the blame on ancient human hunters and their appetite for
Researchers precisely dating bone specimens of
elephant-sized marsupials, giant snakes and other extinct animals in
Australia found that the wildlife disappeared within a few thousands
years after humans reached the continent.
Another study, using a computer math model, concluded
that the arrival of humans on the American continents initiated the
decline of mammoths, camels, saber-toothed tigers and other large
animals. More than two-thirds of the large animals that evolved in the
Americas before humans were gone
by 11,000 years ago.
Both studies, appearing Friday in the journal Science,
contribute to a debate that has been continuing for more than a century
among scientists intrigued by the question: What killed off the big
animals in the newly settled continents of the world?
Some have long blamed humans, but other experts say it
could have been climate change, disease or a gradual change in habitat.
The two new studies pin the blame firmly on humans.
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