Sunday, April 10, 2011

Missing News: Flannery's future eaters fictitious

Australia's Climate Commissar Tim Flannery is a big believer in the theory that Australia's megafauna were driven to extinction by a human-induced culinary blitzkrieg. The notion that human's were to blame for our missing mega-fauna was explored at length in Flannery's best selling book "The Future Eaters". Flannery has stated that he believes "that in the absence of humans, the giant marsupials would still be in Australia today" That "the megafauna went out with a bang and not a whimper." 
The notion that man has had such a drammatic impact on the environment in the distant past obviously accords well with the current paradigm of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming in which Flannery is also true believer. However it appears to be wrong.
Flannery's pet theory has been blown away (again!) by new research published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.  Under the title "Dating megafaunal extinction on the Pleistocene Darling Downs, eastern Australia: the promise and pitfalls of dating as a test of extinction hypotheses" researchers based at the University of Queensland used a suite of sophisticated dating methods to show "that the progressive loss of local megafauna was initiated well before the accepted period of human continental colonisation. Hence, the data suggest that humans were unlikely to have played any role in the extirpation of the affected local megafauna during that interval."
"... the new dates suggest that that the loss of at least some local megafauna occurred over an extended interval of time through the late Pleistocene and was not a geologically-instantaneous event. Hence, data from these controlled excavations do not support the blitzkrieg or attritional overkill hypotheses, which suggest that the losses should have occurred over short timescales of only 500 -1500 years."

Researchers point to drammatic natural changes in the environemnt as the main causeof the decline in the megafauna. These include:1) decreasing temperatures as climate shifted into a glacial interval; 2) falling sea levels (>60 m); 3) step-wise increases in aridity, including widespread megadroughts; and 4) significant changes in vegetation consistent with contraction of wet-forests and spread of sclerophyllus vegetation and grassland.

From the abstract: "Importantly, the dates suggest that the local decline in biological diversity was initiated not, vert, similar75,000 years before the colonisation of humans on the continent. Collectively, the data are most parsimoniously consistent with a pre-human climate change model for local habitat change and megafauna extinction, but not with a nearly simultaneous extinction of megafauna as required by the human-induced blitzkrieg extinction hypothesis. This study demonstrates the problems inherent in dating deposits that lie near the chronological limits of the radiocarbon dating technique, and highlights the need to cross-check previously-dated archaeological and megafauna deposits within the timeframe of earliest human colonisation and latest megafaunal survival."

The site of Flannery's dating (Ned's Gully) is now under further investigation. More careful dating may reveal the earlier dates were erroneous. Regardless, the new research indicates Australia's Future Eaters are but a figment of an overactive imagination.

We await ABC's coverage of this important revelation.


  1. Humans (aborigines) ruining the pre-existing ecology is consistent with the massive land changes in America caused by colonisation. Burning down forests for example, which aborigines definitely carried out, had a huge impact- it turned forest to desert in fact. It would be more than odd that gigantic forest dwelling animals just sort of rode that one out.

  2. Problem is the new dating shows the downward spiral for the big beasties in Australia was well and truely on the way about 30,000 years before man first set foot on these fine shores. Flannery's theory of cataclysmic man made extinction is extinct.


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