Scientists analyzed burnt tissue of huge eggshells to conclude the fact that a giant bird went extinct due to human appetite.
A group of American and Australian researchers conducted a study about a giant bird in order to find out why it disappeared. The bird was called Genyornis newtoni, had a weight of 500 pounds and was seven feet tall. It was one of many huge ancient animals, which scientists call the group of megafauna.
Its eggs were also unusually large and weighed 3.5 pounds. By analyzing the eggshell fragments found in more regions of Australia, the study found that they were partially burnt and blackened. Moreover, scientists evaluated the amino acid decomposition so as to exclude the possibility of a wildfire having burnt the eggs.
They discovered that the amino acids in the eggshells presented a gradient of decomposition, meaning that they were burnt. However, the burns were non-uniform which indicated that they were actually cooked. The fragments were discovered in tight nests. There were signs that they were burnt in fires up to 1,000 Fahrenheit. This temperature is not linked with a wildfire.
Researchers declared that these findings
“are consistent with early humans harvesting Genyornis eggs, cooking them over fires, and then randomly discarding the eggshell fragments in and around their cooking fires”.
Dating techniques conclude that the eggshells are 47,000 years old. This is the period when Genyornis newtoni is believed to have disappeared. Even if the time of human arrival on the continent is not yet known, scientists think that as far as the giant birds are concerned, there is
”reliable evidence they were widely dispersed across the continent at the same time”.
In addition, it was discovered that more than 85 percent of the megafauna in the continent became extinct shortly after humans arrived.
In spite of Australia’s severe climate shifts, researchers do not believe that megafauna extinctions have connection with continental drying. In the last 100 years, the extinction rate has grown up to 100 times. This shows how humans have cleared out animals for their own use.
Nevertheless, scientists are still debating this subject. Some of them think this giant bird went extinct due to human appetite, while others blame the climate changes. However it may be, researchers worry that we are about to witness a sixth mass extinction due to our behavior.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia