When it comes to causing extinction, new research has found that early humans are likely not as jerky as we are today.
Early human relatives have lived on the island since the early days Pleistocene era (2.6 million to 11,700 years ago). However, widespread extinctions on the islands can be traced back primarily to the last 11,700 years. Holocene era, When modern humans began to cause havoc there — researchers discovered overfishing, habitat changes, and the introduction of invasive species.
“Human beings are directly or indirectly responsible for the hundreds of losses on the island over the last few hundred years, but going back in time, the tragic traces are very diminished.” Said Ross McPhee, a senior curator of vertebrate zoology and research co-author. He emailed Live Science at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. “their [our distant relatives’] The impact was trivial, but our impact was devastating and long-lasting. “
Why is it an island?
The islands are full of animal extinction. For example, on the islands of New Zealand, nine mowers, giants, Ostrich-Like a bird, I used to live. But within 200 years of the arrival of humans, along with at least 25 other vertebrates (animals with a spine), they are all extinct, researchers write.
A team led by scientists at Griffith University in Australia focused on the island for one major reason. The islands “tend to be particularly widespread,” they write in a study. That’s because the islands tend to have animals of small size and population, and there are small animals. Genetic diversity It is susceptible to random events (partially due to inbreeding), has less chance of recolonization, and supports higher levels of native animals compared to continental animals.
To investigate whether the extinction of the island coincided with the arrival of Hominini, or modern humans, our ancestors, and our close evolutionary cousins, researchers worked with Britain, Taiwan, and Okinawa. Tasmania. (Unlike the apes in the group, they are not included in the ape group Orangutan.. However, dating the arrival of the Hominini and the extinction of the island was not always easy, MacPhee said. Moreover, it was difficult to determine whether animals were extinct primarily for humans or for other factors. Climate change, He said.
“But the place where we got most of the data, the archipelago of islands east of mainland Asia, was less affected by the kind of seriously detectable climate change that affected North America.” Animals such as Mammoth He said it was extinct.
The team also explained the fact that some extinctions occur naturally throughout. evolution.. In addition, they cite evidence that early Hominini hunted terrestrial animals — after all, there are ancient animal bones with the remains of a butcher. However, the team discovered that the early Hominini did not drive the creatures into oblivion. “Instead, there was coexistence as it is [in] “Nature is always present among different species,” McPhee said. “Repeat,” these early versions did not increase the extinction rate of colonized islands. ” Is shown.
For example, in Flores, Indonesia, “Hobbit”, or Homoflores ensis“There are no known extinctions closely related to the emergence of the first Hominini,” the researchers said in the study. They found that the same was true for the Sardinian Hominini.
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In contrast, within 5,000 years of modern humans who arrived in the Channel Islands of California about 13,000 years ago, the Columbian Mammoth (Mammoth Columbia), Pygmy Mammoth (Mammoth exilis) And voles (Microtus miguelensis) The researchers found it extinct.Similarly, in Ireland, the giant deer (((Megaloceros giganteus) And lemming (Dicrostonyx torquatus) As with the crane (genus), it became extinct shortly after the modern man arrived 13,000 years ago. GurusIt disappeared in Timor, a country in Southeast Asia, after the arrival of modern people 46,000 years ago.
The list continues: elephant Sulawesi, Indonesia. Stork (Leptoptilos robustus), Vulture (genus) Trigonoceps), Songbird (genus Acridotheres), Stegodon like an elephant (Stegodon florensis insularis) And even more Homoflores ensisDisappeared shortly after arrival Homo sapiens In Flores, researchers discovered.
Why are modern people jerks?
So why are modern humans the driving force behind such extinction, and not the early Hominini?
“”culture, Culture, culture, “McPhee said. “Looking at human adaptation through the lens of culture, the most obvious difference between then and now is the ability to control the global environment today.”
In other words, the early Hominini had little control over their environment. They were able to hunt, but it wasn’t technically sophisticated. “Early people on the island most often traveled by sea to get there. They were already facing the sea and marine resources and didn’t know or decided to hunt terrestrial animals. I wasn’t interested, “McPhee said.
As people progressed, “as we became more technologically competent, our behavior towards the environment changed and became more destructive,” McPhee said.
This finding should not assume that people “our ancestors are preloaded with the same will that we have, and that is somehow in our genes.” Is shown. “If there is a lesson, it’s just this: act as our distant ancestors did, take what you need from nature, but don’t destroy it in the process.”
This also explains why extinction was not associated with the first arrival. Homo sapiens On the islands about 50,000 years ago. “It seems that both apes and island fauna emerged and prospered together during this period,” said Julian Hume, a paleontologist and researcher at the National Museum of History in London, England, who was not involved in the study. Said. At the time, he said, there were few people, the tools were unsophisticated, and the rate of colonization was slow. This changed during the Holocene, where modern humans have mastered large amounts of long-distance international travel, developed sophisticated tools, and brought non-native animals to the island with them. ..
But Hume said the islands are famous for their poorly preserved fossils. In addition, fossils that survive over time tend to come from large, strong animals rather than small, delicate animals. So, looking at the fossil records, he told Live Science by email, whether or not the early Hominini caused the extinction of animals.
In addition, ancient burnt animal bones are “surprisingly rare,” Hume said. “The author finds little evidence of human predation, so that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
However, Hume still agreed with the researcher’s take-away message. “We can understand, and perhaps forgive, those human ancestors who hunted for need when they traveled across the ocean,” Hume said. “What is unforgivable is that modern humans are destroying nature at an unprecedented rate, even though they have detailed knowledge of what the final price will be.”
The study was published online in the journal on Monday (May 3). Minutes of the National Academy of Sciences..
Originally published in Live Science.
Scientists have discovered that the Hobbit and other early humans are not “destructive agents” of extinction.
Source link Scientists have discovered that the Hobbit and other early humans are not “destructive agents” of extinction.