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article imageNew evidence suggests megafauna no match for humans

By Owen Weldon     Jan 21, 2010 in World
Claims are being made by researchers, who say that there is new evidence, that humans were actually responsible for the extinction of Australia's megafauna.
Over 40,000 years ago species roamed around the continent of Australia. Not just any kind of species, but rare ones such as a wombats the size of a rhinoceros to sheep sized echidna.
A huge lizard that grew up to six metres long, a lion sized carnivorous possum and a bird that resembled an emu but it was twice as heavy and half as tall as one.
Barry Brook is a professor at the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute and he helped write the paper on the megafauna’s extinction that was published in the journal science.
Brook says that over the years people have argued about how and why the creatures just vanished. Up until recently the theory was that people who started to come to Australia between 45,000 and 65,000 years ago caused the giant creatures to go extinct.
There is a site located in western New South Wales called Cuddie Springs and archaeologists found remains of some of the giant creatures and stone tools which have some people thinking that there was a long overlap between the humans and the giant animals.
Dating of bones was previously based on surrounding sediments, dating back to more than 20,000 years ago. Now evidence is contradicted because other similar sites in Australia shows that the animals became extinct at least 40,000 years ago.
The bones that were found at Cuddie Springs are older than though according to new dating methods.
The bones and tools might have been found in the same sediment because they may have simply washed up there due to a flood, according to Brook.
Brook also said that the bones are old and that they may have been produced out of a river bank and than washed up and than redeposited. He went on to say that the tools may have just got mixed in with all of it.
The findings are important and it fits in with the thoughts that the large animals could not last too long with the possessive and aggressive humans.
Brook said "If they had been living together for 15,000 years, it would really undermine the idea that people had a quick, dramatic impact and wiped them out," and "That the youngest fossil we have is 42,000 years ago and the best evidence of people spreading around Australia is 47,000 years ago, the overlap should be a maximum of 4000 to 5000 years.”
Dr. Judith Field is an archaeologist at the University of Sydney and she disputes the theory. She says that there is no proof at all that a flood came along and pushed everything into a big pile.
She said that there are just bones in a deposit in order of anatomy. She says that it is very clear that the stones around the bones have been used and they did not wash up from a flood.
Field believes that the animals were slowly killed off throughout thousands of years. The animals died before the humans arrived, according to Field. She did say that there is scant evidence that explains how these massive animals died out.
More about Megafauna, Humans, Evidence
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