Thousands of years ago, humans lived alongside behemoths such as giant lemurs, dwarf hippos, giant tortoises and the world’s largest bird, the elephant bird, on the island of Madagascar. These species have long been extinct, leaving scientists to figure out if climate change or human interference are to blame for their disappearance. A new study reports that although droughts created harsher environments for the animals to survive in, “humans were the straw that broke the elephant bird’s back,” reports Elizabeth Pennisi for Science.
Fossils reveal that the giant creatures went extinct around 1,500 years ago, but, until now, the reason why has been unclear. A team led by Hanying Li, a post-doctoral scholar at Xi’an Jiaotong University in China, traveled to Rodrigues—a small, remote island east of Madagascar—to piece together the region’s climatic history, reports David Bressan for Forbes.
The team ventured into the island’s caves to analyze