Animal Writes
10 June 2001 Issue
.....then humans arrived

from Andrew Gach - [email protected] 

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 meat.

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.

Full story

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