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Re: Vegavis gen. nov. - new anseriform in today's Nature

At 12:50 PM 1/24/2005, John Bois wrote:
If we're talking about island extinctions, humans are involved only
indirectly.  The dirty work is done by introduced mammals (usually).

Well, I think this is an unwarranted generalization. Certainly rats and other introduced mammals are responsible for a number of island extinctions. However, we know that many island endemics perished after the arrival of humans but before the arrival of western scientists to record the details, so we don't really know exactly what did them in - but as many of these were large and/or flightless forms direct hunting seems not unlikely (moas are perhaps the best example). As for "historical" extinctions, avian diseases are probably responsible for most losses on Hawaii, and of course the Brown Tree Snake has wiped out several species on Guam.

Ronald Orenstein
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