Megafaunal Decline and Fall

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Science  20 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5956, pp. 1072-1073
DOI: 10.1126/science.1182770

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One of the most dramatic environmental changes in recent Earth history has been the disappearance of very big animals—mammoths, mastodons, ground sloths, giant kangaroos, moa and hundreds of others—from most of the land area of the globe. What caused these extinctions? And how did they affect the world's ecosystems? The first question has generated such intense debate that few scientists have got past it to confront the second. On page 1100 of this issue, Gill et al. (1) give answers to both questions.