Report

New Ages for the Last Australian Megafauna: Continent-Wide Extinction About 46,000 Years Ago

Science  08 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5523, pp. 1888-1892
DOI: 10.1126/science.1060264

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Abstract

All Australian land mammals, reptiles, and birds weighing more than 100 kilograms, and six of the seven genera with a body mass of 45 to 100 kilograms, perished in the late Quaternary. The timing and causes of these extinctions remain uncertain. We report burial ages for megafauna from 28 sites and infer extinction across the continent around 46,400 years ago (95% confidence interval, 51,200 to 39,800 years ago). Our results rule out extreme aridity at the Last Glacial Maximum as the cause of extinction, but not other climatic impacts; a “blitzkrieg” model of human-induced extinction; or an extended period of anthropogenic ecosystem disruption.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rgrobe{at}unimelb.edu.au

  • Present address: Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.

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