[Environment] ENVIRONMENT: GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE : EARTH SCIENCES : PALEONTOLOGY: 12,000 Years Ago, Humans and Climate Change Made a Deadly Team

 

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ENVIRONMENT: GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE :

EARTH SCIENCES :

PALEONTOLOGY:

12,000 Years Ago, Humans and Climate Change Made a Deadly Team

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12,000 Years Ago, Humans and Climate Change Made a Deadly Team

Trilobites

By TATIANA SCHLOSSBERG

JUNE 17, 2016

New York Times

Science

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/18/science/ patagonia-extinctions-global-warming.html

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/joccshj

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Climate change, habitat destruction, extinctions  the Earth has seen it all before, thousands of years ago. And humans may have been partly to blame for many of those changes in nature, too.

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A new study published Friday in Science Advances shows that the arrival of humans in Patagonia, combined with a changing climate, led to the extinction of many species of megafauna about 12,000 years ago in the southern portion of what is now South America. The research offers a significant moment in the natural history of the continent: a definitive date of the mass extinction of megafauna  large or giant animals, like mammoths and giant sloths  in this part of the world. It also suggests a potential relationship between threatened species and climate change in our own time.

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The authors of the study from the University of Adelaide in Australia, with help from scientists from South America and elsewhere, found that the presence of humans in Patagonia was not enough to drive extinction, but the one-two punch of humans and a warmer climate led to the collapse of many species.

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The scientists sequenced the mitochondrial DNA from 89 megafaunal bone and teeth samples that had been excavated from caves and rock shelters in Patagonia. They were able to date 71 of those samples, and then looked into whether the extinctions of those species were associated with other known events  ice ages or warming periods, for example  in the annals of either climate change or human existence.

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Humans had been in Patagonia for at least 1,000 years before this mass extinction, and they overlapped with megafauna during a cold period known as the Antarctic Cold Reversal. After that climatic period, a rapid warming phase followed, and much of the ice that carpeted the region began to melt, allowing for a beech tree forest to creep across the land, reducing their original habitat.

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According to this study, the extinction began soon after Patagonia began to heat up. Humans played an important role, too: Their presence put pressure on the animals, through hunting and a smaller habitat range, scattering the megafauna throughout the region.

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The complete article may be read at the URL above.

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patagonia AND “climate change” AND (extinction OR extinctions)
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