Currently under suspicion are prehistoric humans. Apparently, they managed to wipe out the largest birds ever in existence and this discovery was made after fossilized bones were found with telltale cut marks.
Scientists seem to believe that this is more than enough evidence that the elephant birds of Madagascar were hunted and killed for food. The remains found recently date back to 10000 years ago. This also changes the date which we consider to mark the arrival of the first settlers on the island. Until now, we believed it be about 2500 to 4000 years ago.
Dr. James Hansford, a scientist who is part of the Zoological Society London, UK, stated that the finding of the fossilized bones affects what we know about humans too. That’s because they push back the date of their arrival by at least 6000 years.
Despite raising questions about human history, this finding also suggests a new extinction theory which is radically different from what we previously accepted to understand the loss of Madagascar’s unique fauna.
Humans who lived there didn’t kill off all the animals in a short while. Instead, it seems that they lived together with the birds for thousands of years, until the birds went extinct approximately 1000 years ago. Dr. Hansford said that “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”.
Long ago, elephant birds represented a common sight on the isle of Madagascar. They weighed approximately half a tone, standing at almost 3 meters tall and they laid giant eggs, bigger than even some of the dinosaurs’. There are a number of theories about their extinction and how much were we involved in their permanent disappearance.