According to recent evidence, the elephant birds, the biggest flying creatures on Earth, vanished a thousand years ago after the prehistoric humans contributed to their extinction. According to the researchers, the discovery also revealed new facts about the migration of our distant ancestors.
The scientists unearthed some 10,000-year-old fossils belonging to elephant birds of Madagascar, a group of the largest flying animals that have ever lived on the surface of the Earth. Nothing was more striking for the researchers than the cutting marks found “engraved” into the ancient bones, revealing that the first prehistoric humans settled in the region with about 6,000 years before initially believed.
“This does push back the date of human arrival by 6,000 years, at least,” explained Dr. James Hansford from the Zoological Society London, in the UK.
Besides the unique finding that our distant ancestors reached Madagascar region earlier than thought, the researchers also uncovered another theory regarding the extinction of the elephant birds.
Prehistoric humans caused the extinction of the elephant birds
According to the study, our ancestors coexisted with the elephant birds for at least 9,000 years before the biggest flying creatures on the Earth vanished around 1,000 years ago.
“Humans seem to have coexisted with elephant birds and other now-extinct species for over 9,000 years, apparently with limited negative impact on biodiversity for most of this period, which offers new insights for conservation today,” said Dr. Hansford.
As reported by the researchers, the prehistoric humans hunted elephant birds and contributed considerably to the reduction in the populations of these creatures. However, they don’t have any explanation on the ancient humans that populated the Madagascar region.
“We do not know the origin of these people and won’t until we find further archaeological evidence,” said Prof. Patricia Wright from Stony Brook University. “The question remains. Who were these people? And when and why did they disappear?” the researcher added.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.