Humans co-existed with largest elephant birds for thousands of years

Dinosaur eggs
Dinosaur eggs Reuters

A new study report published in the journal Science Advances reveals that humans had co-existed with giant elephant birds for thousands of years. Researchers who took part in this study made this conclusion after they discovered fossilized bones of these giant creatures with telltale cut marks in Madagascar. As per the scientists, cut marks in the fossils indicate that elephant birds in Madagascar were hunted and butchered for food by ancient humans.

The research report also revealed that the fossils discovered were more than 10,000 years ago. Previously, it has been assumed that humans reached the island about 2,500 to 4,000 years ago, and with this new revelation, human arrival on the island got pushed back by at least 6,000 years.

Scientists also believe that after co-existing with these giant birds for thousands of years, it was the increased hunting habit of pre-historic human beings which resulted in the extinction of these creatures.

"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, a researcher at the Zoological Society in London, BBC reports.

A recent statement issued by the research team also reveals that most of Madagascar's megafauna which includes giant bird elephants, hippos, giant tortoises, and giant lemurs faced extinction just 1,000 years ago.

Lead author James Hansford also added that "a radically different extinction theory is required to understand the huge biodiversity loss that has occurred on the island."

As per experts, elephant birds were once a common sight in Madagascar, and these giants weighed at least half a tonne. These creatures laid giant eggs, and they were much larger than the eggs laid by dinosaurs.

However, it still remains unclear about the origin of these pre-historic men who reached Madagascar during ancient times, and all the evidence modern science have are just cuts and scrapes.

This article was first published on September 14, 2018