Humans have been driving animals and plants to extinction since ancient times, not just in our current day and age. This is further proven to be correct by the news that an Australian giant bird went extinct due to our appetite for its eggs, released by a research team comprised of scientists and researchers from Australia and the US.
The bird in question was the Genyornis newtoni, a massive flightless 7-foot bird of 500 pounds, similar to the ostrich. Its eggs were as massive as the bird, roughly the size of a large cantaloupe. The animal itself was part of the megafauna that roamed Australia in ancient times, given this name because most of the species it encompassed had rather large sizes.
If you thought that Australia is currently the home of some of the most dangerous animals on Earth, this was even more viable in ancient history, given the fact that humans had to take cover from raging packs of 1,000-pound kangaroos and car-sized wombats.
The reason why this Australian megafauna went extinct has been debated for several decades up to this point. The most viable extinction theory was based on climate change, but the fact that Australia faced a much less severe continental drying 50,000 years ago in comparison to the one from the Pleistocene epoch dismissed this theory almost entirely.
This is due to the fact that the megafauna passed through the Pleistocene epoch pretty much unscathed. But human-megafauna interaction has been rather inconclusive up to this point.
By carefully analyzing Genyornis newtoni eggshells found scattered along Australia, research teams noticed that most of them were blackened by fire. In order to see if this was caused by wildfires, the teams subjected the shells to certain analysis methods that can indicate if the amino-acid decomposition caused by the fire was uniform or gradual.
What they found was pretty astounding, with eggs presenting a higher degree of decomposition on one end only, ruling out the idea of wildfires which would have engulfed the giant egg completely. Simply put, these eggs were placed on fires in order to be cooked, with the upper side being cracked so that humans can indulge themselves.
This is why the research team came to the conclusion that the Australian giant bird went extinct due to our appetite for its eggs because almost all of the eggshells found where more or less presenting the same gradient of decomposition linked to cooking. This was not only limited to Genyornis newtoni, with humans gathering ancient emu eggs for cooking as well but due to the fact that emus are much more dangerous, this trend soon died out, forcing humans to focus extensively on the giant bird’s eggs instead, eventually leading to its extinction.