If humans arrived on Madagascar 6,000 years earlier than prior believed, then who killed the elephant bird?
In the beautiful region of Madagascar, one of the most important biodiversity hotspots, once lived a giant avian species that was 3 meters tall and laid eggs even bigger than those of dinosaurs. The so named elephant bird was wiped out by humans somewhere around 1,000 years ago, after arriving on the isolated island only a few centuries prior, or not?!
Researchers took a closer look and examined the leg-bones of Aepyornis maximus and were amazed to notice obvious marks made by human tools. Given the fact that this bird species was dated to 10,500 years, it’s natural to say that humans arrived on Madagascar much earlier than we initially thought.
“Our research provides evidence of human activity in Madagascar more than 6,000 years earlier than previously suspected—which demonstrates that a radically different extinction theory is required to understand the huge biodiversity loss that has occurred on the island. 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. James Hansford from the Zoological Society of London’s Institute of Zoology.
The fossils were taken from lakaka, a village that was once quiet in the south-central part of the island that eventually turned into a bustling town containing tens of thousands of inhabitants. While digging for sapphires and precious stones, the locals came across what was believed to be dinosaur bones that later turned out to belong to giant lemurs, crocs and even elephant birds.