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Re: Droughts wiped out megafauna, palaeontologist says

don ohmes writes:

Drought drives various taxa into refugia, making extinction by humans easy (or inevitable), by mechanisms that include monopolization of point water resources. The only way I can see that a reasonable person can assign extinction of large prey items to drought conditions is if a hunting population simply isn't present.

Usually when these sorts of articles are summarised for the popular news sources, the summaries end up as 'all or nothing' scenarios. In reality of course, no single event or situation is usually to blame for extinctions. I doubt very much the actual paper itself makes such black and white claims. I say blame the popular media for over-simplifying things.

Of course drought would have reduced predator populations as well (including humans). If exceptionally dry conditions drove humans to the greener coastal areas, then extinctions that occured inland would have had nothing to do with them. Unless of course human 'fire-stick farming' contributed to the drought conditions in the first place by radically changing vegetation regimes over thousands of years (which we know it did).

Of course you can't say that prehistoric peoples negatively impacted on their environments, as all politically correct people know for a fact that 'primitive' societies lived (and still live) in a magical Eutopia that is in complete harmony with nature. ;)


Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist         http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia        http://heretichides.soffiles.com