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Science. 1999 Jan 8;283(5399):205-8.

Pleistocene extinction of genyornis newtoni: human impact on australian megafauna

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  • 1G. H. Miller and B. J. Johnson, Center for Geochronical Research, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), and Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0450, USA. J. W. Magee, Department of Geology, Austr.


More than 85 percent of Australian terrestrial genera with a body mass exceeding 44 kilograms became extinct in the Late Pleistocene. Although most were marsupials, the list includes the large, flightless mihirung Genyornis newtoni. More than 700 dates onGenyornis eggshells from three different climate regions document the continuous presence of Genyornis from more than 100,000 years ago until their sudden disappearance 50,000 years ago, about the same time that humans arrived in Australia. Simultaneous extinction of Genyornis at all sites during an interval of modest climate change implies that human impact, not climate, was responsible.

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