Humans Eating Habits Cause The Extinction Of Earth’s Largest Animals, Megafauna

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Giant animals on the surface of the Earth are known as megafauna. These large species of animals, including whales, giant reptiles, elephants, and so on, are crucial for balancing their respective ecosystems. However, according to a new study, published on February 6th in the journal Conservation Letters, 70 percent of the world’s largest animals are on a downtrend, while 50 percent of them are already on the brink of extinction. The culprit for this trend? Humans eating habits!

“Direct harvest for human consumption of meat or body parts is the biggest danger to nearly all of the large species with threat data available,” lead study author William Ripple, a professor of ecology at the Oregon State University College of Forestry, said in a statement. “Our results suggest we’re in the process of eating megafauna to extinction,” he added.

Humans Eating Habits Cause The Extinction Of The Majority Of Earth’s Largest Animals, Megafauna

“According to the researchers, that makes megafauna far more vulnerable than all vertebrate species as a whole, of which 21 percent are threatened with extinction, and 46 percent have declining populations. This bias against Earth’s largest creatures is “highly unusual and unmatched” over the last 65 million years of post-dinosaur evolution,” LiveScience reported, citing the authors of the new study.

Once humans became better at hunting animals from a distance, over the past few hundred years, the Earth’s largest animals became the target. We hunted megafauna either due to humans eating habits, mostly based on meat consumption, or for their furs, fangs, and so on. “Meat consumption was the most common motive for harvesting megafauna for all classes except reptiles, where harvesting eggs was ranked on top. Other leading reasons for harvesting megafauna included medicinal use, unintended bycatch in fisheries and trapping, live trade and various other uses of body parts such as skins and fins,” the researchers noted in the study’s report.