A recent study has proven that our ancestors caused the extinction of a giant bird, mostly because they ate all of its eggs in their insatiable hunger. Scientists were able to reach this sad conclusion after analyzing sets of burn patterns on particular eggshell fragments. The research was conducted by both American and Australian scientists.
The extinct bird is named Genyornis newtoni and is part of the megafauna, a groups including huge ancient animals. Genyornis is considered to have been quite large at seven feet tall and five hundred pounds. One egg from this creature weighed about 3.5 pounds, which is roughly the size of a cantaloupe.
The study was published last Friday in Nature Communications, a science journal. This is the first time researchers could find a link between the disappearance of the animal and the human race. University of Colorado geology professor Gifford Miller stated that the results of the study are the first and only evidence of humans preying on megafauna from the Australian continent. This is truly a tremendous discovery, since many have debated for more than a hundred years on the cause of the extinction of the Australian megafauna.
It seems humans arrived on the northern coast of the continent from Indonesia. They managed to settle across Australia 47,000 years ago. At that time, animals that are part of the megafauna were still present there.
In more detail, researchers had to examine the eggshells of Genyornis in the nesting sites located in sand dunes. These eggshells were dated to be from 44,000 to 54,000 years old, thanks to a special technology involving optically stimulated luminescence. In the end, they discovered that out of the total of 2,000 egg sites, two hundred were burned and blackened. Wildfires were ruled out because the eggshells were burnt on only one side: a clear sign that they once stood upon cooking sites. Furthermore, they have been cooked at about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is far more than any wildfire could reach.
In the end, it seems only natural that our ancestors caused the extinction of a giant bird in order to ensure their own survival. The scientists concluded that they cooked the eggs over their fires and then discarded the eggshells around these places. The theory seems to be confirmed by the case of ancient emu eggshells, which shared the same fate since they feature the same type of burns.
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