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Re: mass extinction

At 11:18 AM +1000 3/21/06, Dann Pigdon wrote:
>In cases like New Zealand, megafaunal extinction was very rapid after the 
>introduction of feral primates, and their activities can probably be blamed. 
>However in other areas (like Australia) where there was a long coexistance 
>(tens of thousands of years), those pesky primates certainly weren't the sole 
>reason for megafaunal extinction. They may not even have been the main 

I have seen claims that the last fossils of various Australian critters -- I 
think the shells of extinct flightless birds -- dated from the same time as the 
first evidence of some human activities, probably controlled burning. But I 
agree Australia is not an easy case to prove. The Americas are a different 
matter - the megafauna went out almost immediately after the Clovis culture 
spread across North America. The time match in the Americas is remarkably good 
for such a large area, and since that's where I live, that's the evidence I 
tend to think of first. :-) 

>No doubt hunting activities and land clearance didn't help, however middle-
>class guilt and political correctness are not good reasons to lump the blame 
>entirely on us poor maligned hominids. We're not *completely* evil. :)

A mastodon, dire wolf, or cave bear might have thought otherwise. :-) 

Jeff Hecht, science & technology writer
jeff@jeffhecht.com  http://www.jhecht.net