In DepthArchaeology

Scarred bird bones reveal early settlement on Madagascar

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Science  14 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6407, pp. 1059
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6407.1059

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Madagascar was long considered the last major landmass, besides Antarctica, settled by humans. But in a Science Advances paper published this week, researchers report ancient butchered bones showing that people made the lush island their home 8500 years ago, an astonishing 6 millennia earlier than once thought. The discovery, by a team led by James Hansford of the Zoological Society of London, also rekindles a contentious debate over whether humans are responsible for the extinction of Madagascar's unique megafauna, including massive lemurs and the world's largest bird, which flourished largely in isolation after the island broke away from the Indian subcontinent 88 million years ago. That controversy is part of a wider disagreement among scholars as to whether human hunters inevitably kill off large mammal species when they arrive in a new land.