The lost giants fascinate people of all ages. Megafauna is the set of large living creatures that survived and thrived on Earth thousand years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch. The animals having more than 97 lbs (44kg) during adulthood belonged to Megafauna. The extinction of many of these mammals occurred during the Quaternary, and many scientists link their disappearance to the hunting skills of humans. Would mankind be able to thrive in a megafauna world?
Discover the megafauna world
The Quaternary megafauna of Eurasia could be divided into 4 different categories: Dinosaurs of Europe, Dinosaurs of Asia, Megafauna of North Asia, and Neogene Megafauna of Eurasia. During the megafauna world from the last glacial period, the world wasn’t as we know it. Large ice sheets started to advance, triggering a sudden rise in the sea level. The animals could have passed on land bridges, as the Earth’s water was captured in glaciation, hence the sea levels were lower than today.
The continent of Europe was drier and colder, with polar desert up north and tundra or steppe in the rest of it. It sounds crazy, but there weren’t woodlands or forests. You could have seen isolated forests in the south of Europe, in the mountains. This was the world of giant bears, interglacial rhinoceros, mammoths, Eurasian wolfs, saber-tooth tigers, and other large beasts. The disappearance of the large animals known as megafauna has occurred in the Holocene extinction and coincides with the arrival of humans on different continents.
Would the mankind survive along megafaunal creatures?
It happened during the climate change when the natural habitat of megafauna has modified considerably. The timing closely correlates with the arrival of Homo sapiens on the places where large animals were already extinct. A few relic populations of megafaunal animals have survived, surprisingly. The Giant Moa, a dwarf subspecies of Woolly Mammoth, and Stellar’s Sea Cow have disappeared years after the first contact with the mankind. Plus, species of Rhinoceros, Giraffe, Elephants, and Hippopotamus have co-evolved with Homo sapiens.
The massive beasts that lived thousand years ago were already on the edge when mankind started over-hunting them. It shows that we were more than capable of surviving in their world. A world that we would have affected as much as we do now. The rapid evolution and superiority allowed mankind to amass plenty cooperative skills and technological knowledge to hunt, gather, and basically change the ecosystems.
Scientists wonder what was the mankind thinking when they committed all the megafaunal extinctions. Yes, it was easy to kill the giant creatures. But was it really necessary? Recent evidence shows that the killing of species went on for many generations. They were good to get, and humans were only thinking for short term.
We know now that the mankind was able to thrive in a megafauna world. But the results would have been the same. Many species would have collapsed, as they did not have hereditary human protection. The mankind needed their meat and acted as invasive species in a world that used to be ruled by large creatures. Even today, we notice that we are powerful and reckless enough to overwhelm any natural balance. Take a look on the widespread degradation of coral reefs and rainforest.
Isn’t it the time to change?