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Type: Journal article
Title: Climate change not to blame for late Quaternary megafauna extinctions in Australia
Author: Saltre, F.
Rodriguez-Rey, M.
Brook, B.
Johnson, C.
Turney, C.
Alroy, J.
Cooper, A.
Beeton, N.
Bird, M.
Fordham, D.
Gillespie, R.
Herrando-Perez, S.
Jacobs, Z.
Miller, G.
Nogués-Bravo, D.
Prideaux, G.
Roberts, R.
Bradshaw, C.
Citation: Nature Communications, 2016; 7(1):10511-1-10511-7
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Issue Date: 2016
ISSN: 2041-1723
Statement of
Frédérik Saltré, Marta Rodríguez-Rey, Barry W. Brook, Christopher N. Johnson, Chris S.M. Turney, John Alroy, Alan Cooper, Nicholas Beeton, Michael I. Bird, Damien A. Fordham, Richard Gillespie, Salvador Herrando-Pérez, Zenobia Jacobs, Gifford H. Miller, David Nogués-Bravo, Gavin J. Prideaux, Richard G. Roberts, Corey J.A. Bradshaw
Abstract: Late Quaternary megafauna extinctions impoverished mammalian diversity worldwide. The causes of these extinctions in Australia are most controversial but essential to resolve, because this continent-wide event presaged similar losses that occurred thousands of years later on other continents. Here we apply a rigorous metadata analysis and new ensemble-hindcasting approach to 659 Australian megafauna fossil ages. When coupled with analysis of several high-resolution climate records, we show that megafaunal extinctions were broadly synchronous among genera and independent of climate aridity and variability in Australia over the last 120,000 years. Our results reject climate change as the primary driver of megafauna extinctions in the world's most controversial context, and instead estimate that the megafauna disappeared Australia-wide ∼13,500 years after human arrival, with shorter periods of coexistence in some regions. This is the first comprehensive approach to incorporate uncertainty in fossil ages, extinction timing and climatology, to quantify mechanisms of prehistorical extinctions.
Keywords: Time Factors
Extinction, Biological
Climate Change
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10511
Grant ID:
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 7
Australian Centre for Ancient DNA publications

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