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"Humans Caused Extinction of Australia’s Prehistoric..." Topic

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592 hits since 13 Feb 2017
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2017 3:20 p.m. PST

… Giant Animals: New Evidence

"The Australian collection of megafauna some 50,000 years ago included 1,000-pound kangaroos, 2-ton wombats, 25-foot-long lizards, 400-pound flightless birds, 300-pound marsupial lions and Volkswagen-sized tortoises," said University of Colorado Boulder Professor Gifford Miller, lead co-author on the study.

"More than 85% of Australia's mammals, birds and reptiles weighing over 100 pounds went extinct shortly after the arrival of the first humans."

"Whether humans were responsible for the demise of the Pleistocene megafauna across Australia has been debated for many years," said lead co-author Dr. Sander van der Kaars, a researcher at Monash University, Australia…"
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evilgong13 Feb 2017 3:41 p.m. PST

Did humans or climate change cause the megafaunal extinction?

Guaranteed question in the final exam of Biogeography-II for decades.

The debate swings back and forth.


David F Brown

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2017 4:39 p.m. PST


Don't you know? Humans caused global warming even back then! :)


JMcCarroll Inactive Member13 Feb 2017 5:33 p.m. PST

Dam dirty apes!!!

Extrabio1947 Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2017 6:07 p.m. PST

Read Jared Diamond's book "Guns, Germs, and Steel." I believe it won a Pulitzer Prize.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2017 7:54 p.m. PST

It was definitely a cool book, even though I didn't always agree with his conclusions.


Zargon Inactive Member14 Feb 2017 12:47 a.m. PST

Jared Diamond should have got an Oscar for his crying in the TV series of GGS.! .
On the flip side aren't we hummies growing ourselves larger and lardier and hopefully trying for a self extinction via soda pop amd extra cheese nachos, can see cockroaches getting to see other solar systems long after we,ve shuffled off as a species.(See articles on plastic waste in the Marianas Trench) so killing off some prehistoric species was just a taster of things to come unless there is a shift and a numbers reduction.

langobard Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2017 3:04 a.m. PST

From memory 'Guns, germs and steel' actually merely stated that it was probably too much of a coincidence that humans arrived at the same time as the extinction for them to have had no impact on the event, but didn't go so far as to blame them.

bsrlee14 Feb 2017 3:37 a.m. PST

One problem in the 'debate' is a strong lobby from the 'Noble Savage' lodge. These are also present in North America. Their argument seems to be that only evil, white Europeans can be responsible for any negative environmental changes, somehow everyone else lived on air alone, didn't eat anything, didn't clear land or use fire and other such nonsense.

So when you find pieces of man made stone tools mixed in with megafauna bones they are out there declaiming that the excavators got it all wrong, their dating and stratigraphy are faulty, it didn't happen because they are standing on a crack in the pavement and other brilliant arguments.

OK, time to take my medication and have a nice lie down.

Dave Knight14 Feb 2017 9:28 a.m. PST

A similar extinction event happened in the Americas after humans arrived

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2017 4:04 p.m. PST

Whether we were there or not, or even hunted them or not, we humans are to be blamed for everything nature does these days.

Well, who's to say WE aren't the ultimate instrument of Nature! :)

PS. I'm still waiting for the day a study comes out blaming us for pre-humanity extinction events, like the Permian mass extinction. Believe me, if today's guilt industry continues unchecked, it WILLhappen.

langobard Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2017 5:02 p.m. PST

The real problem I have with statements such as

"These findings rule out climate change, and implicate humans, as the primary extinction cause."

is that they point the finger at humans but in no way, shape of form suggest HOW the humans pulled off one of the great extinction events of pre-history. There is no suggestion or indeed evidence that a howling mass migration of meat eaters chomping down on any two ton wombat they could find as though they were cheese burgers.

The most I've ever heard is that small groups of hunter gatherers arrived and dispersed over the continent.

I have no problem at all with the idea that humans stuffed things up (especially having just reread Volume One of the Cambridge Ancient History which flat out blames human over use of resources for turning what was the Fertile Crescent into a desert), but in this instance we are talking groups of hunter gatherers. These tend to be small and dispersed, and I'm just not seeing how they alone caused this event.

Curious though.

@bsrlee, let me know what meds you are on, cos there are times when I need 'em too!

It's simply that this allegation has me puzzled, since we're talking about annihilation in a mere couple of thousand years.

Oh well. Now where are those meds…

Henry Martini28 Feb 2017 7:22 p.m. PST

The other night I watched a documentary about the latest research into micro-plastic environmental distribution and effects. It seems that the stuff is everywhere and in everything, and nature is adapting to its presence even at the micro-biological level, to the point of possibly generating new micro-plastic dependent bacterial species and communities.

It also affects global bacterial distribution, with existing species appearing where they previously didn't due to micro-plastics' marine vector capacity. This has potentially serious ramifications for global animal and human disease distribution.

Deuce03 Inactive Member08 Mar 2017 3:24 p.m. PST

There are enough documented human-influenced species extinctions that the "how" is, I think, not that complicated. Humans killed the animals at a greater rate than they could reproduce. Humans being an efficient invasive predator, accompanied by other animals (certainly dogs, probably rodents), they would certainly be capable of such a feat. It's a narrative we have seen time and again, both with humans and with other invasive species.

It is not controversial that the Maori were directly responsible for the extinction of moas in New Zealand, and at best indirectly responsible for other extinctions (like Haast's Eagle). I don't really see why it's in doubt that a similar fate *could* have befallen the megafauna on the rather larger island/continent some way to the north.

Of course it is hard to say with any certainty what actually happened. There may have been multiple factors. It might be that humans were indirectly responsible but in a way we don't normally consider, such as their accompanying dogs carrying a parasite or disease which killed large numbers of indigenous animals. But I am surprised anyone can have any doubt at all that humans might have been responsible. They almost certainly didn't do it on purpose, but species-level extinctions are rarely deliberate.

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