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Hydrological transformation coincided with megafaunal extinction in central Australia

Tim J. Cohen, John D. Jansen, Luke A. Gliganic, Joshua R. Larsen, Gerald C. Nanson, Jan-Hendrik May, Brian G. Jones and David M. Price
Hydrological transformation coincided with megafaunal extinction in central Australia
Geology (Boulder) (March 2015) 43 (3): 195-198


Central to the debate over the extinction of many of Australia's last surviving megafauna is the question: Was climate changing significantly when humans arrived and megafauna went extinct? Here we present a new perspective on variations in climate and water resources over the last glacial cycle in arid Australia based on the study of the continent's largest lake basin and its tributaries. By dating paleoshorelines and river deposits in the Lake Eyre basin, we show that major hydrological change caused previously overflowing megalakes to enter a final and catastrophic drying phase at 48 + or - 2 ka just as the giant bird, Genyornis newtoni, went extinct (50-45 ka). The disappearance of Genyornis and other megafauna has been previously attributed to "ecosystem collapse" coincident with the spread of fire-wielding humans. Our findings suggest a climate-driven hydrological transformation in the critical window of human arrival and megafaunal extinction, and the results call for a re-evaluation of a human-mediated cause for such extinctions in arid Australia.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 43
Serial Issue: 3
Title: Hydrological transformation coincided with megafaunal extinction in central Australia
Affiliation: University of Wollongong, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wollongong, N.S.W., Australia
Pages: 195-198
Published: 201503
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 28
Accession Number: 2015-054225
Categories: Quaternary geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2015071
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch map
S33°00'00" - S19°00'00", E131°00'00" - E147°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Queensland, AUS, Australia
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201525
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