Early humans used to eat giant eggs, according to a team of researchers. A 50,000 year old eggshell that belonged to a giant bird was discovered in Australia.
Before the human arrival on the continent, the giant birds who couldn’t fly were spread across the whole continent. Shortly after the humans started to populate the warm continent, the birds faced extinction. Scientists believe that this was caused because the humans used to eat their giant eggs. The fragments of the eggshell were found burnt and that suggest that they used to cook them, preventing thus the birds from reproducing.
The birds were called Genyornis newtoni. They had an impressive height of 7 feet and they could weigh up to 500 lbs. Their eggs weighed approximately 3.5 lbs and were huge. According to the authors of the study, the burn eggshell is the proof that the humans contributed to the birds’ extinction. Apparently, this wasn’t the only burnt eggshell found by the scientists. Gifford Miller from the University of Colorado stated that burnt eggshells were found in more than 200 places across Australia.
When the researchers started their quest for these eggs, they wanted to see how old were the ancient shorelines. But while they were studying the eggshells they discovered that a lot of them have been previously burned and clustered in the same place. Most of the eggshells were found in the sand dunes, where the giant birds used to have nests. The researchers found both burnt and unburnt eggshells. After further investigation, they discovered that the eggs were around 44,000 and 54,000 years old. That marks the same period of time when the continent was colonized. Apparently, the eggs were burned in fires made by humans.
This giant bird wasn’t the only one that populated prehistoric Australia. Among others there were a kangaroo that weighed 1.000 lb., a tortoise the size of a car, a 25 feet long lizard and a wombat that weighed 2 tons. Unfortunately, when the colonization started, the animals started to go extinct. 85% of the megafauna died after that time period. The scientists debate whether the humans or the change of the climate caused this. Some people think both and some credit only one of the reasons. According to Miller, the climate changes are not responsible for the extinct megafauna. He stated that this study is the first one to show that the people did feed on the megafauna found 50,000 years ago in Australia.
The study which showed that early humans used to eat giant eggs was published in January 29 in the Nature Communications journal.
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