Humans reached Madagascar 6,000 years earlier than previously thought
Beyond revealing new information about early human migrations, the findings are significant because they seem to indicate that Madagascar’s megafauna wasn’t driven to extinction by the first wave of humans that reached the island.
“We already know that Madagascar’s megafauna – elephant birds, hippos, giant tortoises and giant lemurs – became extinct less than 1,000 years ago. There are a number of theories about why this occurred, but the extent of human involvement hasn’t been clear,” lead author James Hansford from Zoological Society of London’s Institute of Zoology said via a press release.
“Our research provides evidence of human activity in Madagascar more than 6,000 years earlier than previously suspected – which demonstrates that a radically different extinction theory is required to understand the huge biodiversity loss that has occurred on the island. Humans seem to have coexisted with elephant birds and other now-extinct species for over 9,000 years, apparently with limited negative impact on biodiversity for most of this period, which offers new insights for conservation today.”