85% Of Australian Megafauna Went Extinct Shortly After The Arrival Of Humans

Posted: Jan 21 2017, 6:08am CST | by , Updated: Jan 21 2017, 6:17am CST, in News | Latest Science News

85% of Australian Megafuana Went Extinct Shortly after the Arrival of Humans
Credit: Peter Trusler, Monash University

New study says that Australian megafauna was wiped out by humans, not climate change

Most of the mammals, birds and reptiles in Australia were wiped out around 45,000 years ago. The cause of their extinction has been a subject of considerable debate in recent years. Some researchers believe that climate change was the driving force behind it while others suggest that humans were responsible for their demise. Now, a new research also says that the Australian Megafuana was killed off by the humans, not climate change.

The latest research is based on sediment core drilled off the coast of Southwest Australia. These sediments date back to around 150,000 to 45,000 years ago and contain fragments of dust and ash as well as fungus called Sporormiella that thrived on the dung of plant-eating mammals.

These layers of sediments are like time-capsules from early Earth that hold the secrets of the events occurred in the past and allow researchers to look back in time millions of years ago.

Analysis reveals that fungus was abundant in the sediment core layers from around 150,000 million years ago, suggesting that animals were widespread across Australia until something radical happened to them.

"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 Gifford Miller, professor at University of Colorado Boulder. “Then, in a window of time lasting just a few thousand years, the megafauna population collapsed."

Previous researches suggest that first humans arrived in Australia as far back as 50,000 years ago. This is consistent with the evidence for the decline of once-common megafauna in Australia. Since no significant climate change event is linked to this period, it leaves only humans the culprit behind megafuana extinction.

"It's a region with some of the earliest evidence of humans on the continent, and where we would expect a lot of animals to have lived," said Miller. “Because of the density of trees and shrubs, it could have been one of their last holdouts some 45,000 years ago. There is no evidence of significant climate change during the time of the megafauna extinction.”

The ancient Australian megafuana included 1,000-pound kangaroos, 2-ton wombats, 25-foot-long lizards, 400-pound birds, 300-pound marsupial lions and car-sized tortoises. Researchers suggest that either human directly hunted these animals to extinction or they died out due to combination of overhunting and climate change.

Lead reseacher Sander van der Kaars from Monash University says. "The results of this study are of significant interest across the archaeological and Earth science communities and to the general public who remain fascinated by the menagerie of now extinct giant animals that roamed the planet - and the cause of their extinction - as our own species began its persistent colonization of Earth."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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