Study Says Hominins Not Behind Extinction of Giant African Mammals
Human ancestors played little to no role in driving mammal extinction in ancient African ecosystems, instead it is related to environmental change, say researchers overturning decades of thinking on ancient hominin impacts. Because human ancestors were present in Africa for nearly seven million years it was argued that they likely caused extinctions earlier in Africa than anywhere else.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst showed that the decline of megaherbivores in Africa over the last seven million years occurred independently of any milestone in human evolution to which it might be linked. The study, published in the journal Science, argued that falling atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and the replacement of large shrubs and trees by grasslands caused the decline of megaherbivores.