Study Says Ho­minins Not Be­hind Ex­tinc­tion of Giant African Mam­mals

The Day After - - COFFEE HOUSE -

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.

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