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Extinction of the Mega fauna Climate Vs Humans
At the end of the last ice age the worlds' largest animals or Mega fauna died out.
However, were the developing humans hunting these giant beasts and causing a
mass extinction or was the warming climate causing a food shortage and too
severe habitat change for the Mega fauna to survive?
Data shows that the Mega fauna became extinct around 10,000 years ago even
though humans colonised North America and Europe about 15,000 years ago. It
is thought that the animals, who had adapted to glacial conditions, died out and
were replaced by relatives of these animals who had adapted differently and
could survive in warmer conditions. For example during the last
ice age the woolly mammoth lived in Europe but along with a
lot of other Mega fauna it became extinct although it is related
to the African elephant and Indian elephant which still survive
today. Scientists think that they were similar in size to there
modern day counterparts but will have had a lot more hair,
smaller ears and a shorter tail. As the most recent ice age
ended the climate of Australia changed dramatically from cold
and dry to warm and dry. This meant that the vast majority of
the lakes and rivers either became very low or totally dried up in the summer this
could result in animals dying from dehydration and because there was hardly any
water some vegetation would die meaning that other animals would die of
It is predicted that humans arrived in Tasmania around 43,000 years ago
therefore this means that humans and Mega fauna lived along side each other
for approximately 2,000 in this time the climate had settled down and was not
changing that much so scientists believe that humans must have caused the
extinction of Mega fauna in this area if it wasn't the climate. The main way the
humans would have killed these animals was hunting but because these animals
were so large they couldn't have used traditional hunting methods they would
have had to have made traps then killed them by throwing rocks and spears at
the animals whilst they were trapped. Others think the humans killed the animals
because they must upset the ecosystem so dramatically. It is also thought that
because these animals were so big they were slow movers and therefore were
vulnerable and easy targets.
I think that the Mega fauna became extinct because of a mix of both of these
factors. The humans must have hunted them because they would have been such
a large meal and tools have been found that could have been used to do this.
However the humans couldn't have killed all of these creatures so therefore
climate change and lack of food must have played the majority part in the
extinction of these animals.