Another marker to put down about the extinction of the varied megafuana. A lot of which went extinct just as human beings – or varied ancestors of – turned up in the same area. The usual bit being that we eated it.
There is, sadly enough, a common misconception about our ancestors. Nature loving, that Rousseauesque fantasy of just drinking the clear water, munching on the acorns that fall unbidden. That humans don’t thrive on acorns matters not a whit to those who share this fantasy of an Elysian past. The truth being that humans – and proto- – were the most vicious beasts out there. That’s why we survived to thrive. It’s not just modern day humans who would scale down a cliff to throttle babbie seabirds for the pot after all.
So too with the bargain bucket meal on legs just found:
Half-tonne birds may have roamed Europe at same time as humans
They roamed, we eated, they roamed no more. As with the arrival of the Maori in New Zealand and the exit of moas. The American horse disappearing about the same time Amerinds made it past the ice barriers into British Columbia and points south. Dodos and sailing ships and on and on around the globe. The major factor in megafauna going extinct being humans turning up to eat them.
Analysis of the 40cm-long bone and others found with it date the remains to between 1.5m and 1.8m years old, suggesting the birds may have been part of the local wildlife when Homo erectus, an ancient ancestor of modern humans, reached Europe 1.2m years ago. The enormous birds may well have been a valuable source of meat, bones, feathers and eggshells for the early human settlers, the scientists say.
Nature is a Hobbesean world and don’t forget it. That’s why there are so many things that try to eat us – not just tigers burning bright but measles, smallpox, polio, meningitis, coming to take us by night.
“We don’t know when it became extinct exactly, but most likely it did not survive later than 1.2m years ago,” Zelenkov said. “They would have been seen by various Homo erectus people.”
Yep, seen and eated.