Pleistocene extinction of Genyornis newtoni: Human impact on Australian megafauna

Gifford H. Miller*, John W. Magee, Beverly J. Johnson, Marilyn L. Fogel, Nigel A. Spooner, Malcolm T. McCulloch, Linda K. Ayliffe

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    289 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    More than 85 percent of Australian terrestrial genera with a body mass exceeding 44 kilograms became extinct in the Late Pleistocene. Although most were marsupials, the list includes the large, flightless mihirung Genyornis newtoni. More than 700 dates on Genyornis eggshells from three different climate regions document the continuous presence of Genyornis from more than 100,000 years ago until their sudden disappearance 50,000 years ago, about the same time that humans arrived in Australia. Simultaneous extinction of Genyornis at all sites during an interval of modest climate change implies that human impact, not climate, was responsible.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)205-208
    Number of pages4
    JournalScience
    Volume283
    Issue number5399
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 1999

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