News Round-Up

The first human settlers on islands caused extinctions

Source: news.ucr.edu

Though some believe prehistoric humans lived in harmony with nature, a new analysis of fossils shows human arrival in the Bahamas caused some birds to be lost from the islands and other species to be completely wiped out.

The researchers examined more than 7,600 fossils over a decade and concluded that human arrival in the Bahamas about 1,000 years ago was the main factor in the birds’ extinction and displacement in recent millennia, although habitat fluctuations caused by increased storm severity and sea level rise could have played a role.

Many spectacular species, such as a colorful parrot, a striking scavenger called a caracara, and a number of hawks, doves, owls, and songbirds, were still found as recently as 900 years ago, and may have overlapped with people by a century before disappearing or retreating to only one or two islands in The Bahamas. “No other environmental change could explain their loss,” said study co-lead Janet Franklin, a distinguished professor of botany and plant sciences at UC Riverside. MORE

Header image: Crested caracara seen in Costa Rica. Credit: Joseph Boone.