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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Nov 12;99(23):14624-7. Epub 2002 Nov 4.

Explaining the Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions: models, chronologies, and assumptions.

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  • 1Key Centre for Tropical Wildlife Management, Northern Territory University, Darwin 0909, Australia.


Understanding of the Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions has been advanced recently by the application of simulation models and new developments in geochronological dating. Together these have been used to posit a rapid demise of megafauna due to over-hunting by invading humans. However, we demonstrate that the results of these extinction models are highly sensitive to implicit assumptions concerning the degree of prey naivety to human hunters. In addition, we show that in Greater Australia, where the extinctions occurred well before the end of the last Ice Age (unlike the North American situation), estimates of the duration of coexistence between humans and megafauna remain imprecise. Contrary to recent claims, the existing data do not prove the "blitzkrieg" model of overkill.

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