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Scientists may have finally established the explanation for the disappearance of the giant koala and other Australian megafauna.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A study of ancient eggshells and teeth supports the controversial theory that early humans caused the extinction of many of Australia's huge animals by setting brush fires, researchers said on Thursday.
Massive extinctions of animals and the arrival of the first humans in ancient Australia may be linked, according to scientists at the Carnegie Institution, University of Colorado, Australian National University, and Bates College.
A shifting diet of two flightless birds inhabiting Australia tens of thousands of years ago is the best evidence yet that early humans may have altered the continent's interior with fire, changing it from a mosaic of trees, shrubs and grasses to the desert scrub evident today.
The extinction of most of Australia's large animals occurred around 45,000 years ago, shortly after the arrival of humans. A study suggests that human burning of the landscape forced dietary changes that killed off many of the animals.
- The act of burning, scorching, or heating to dryness; the state or being thus heated or dried.
- In medicine, cauterization.