Humans 'drove ancient turtles to extinction'

Humans 'drove ancient turtles to extinction'

An international team has found the last example of the supersized animals to roam the Earth, a never-before-seen species in the genus Meiolania, were driven to extinction by settlers on a Vanuatu island, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.

This was despite the turtles, which were more than eight feet in length, outliving most of the other outsized, extinct animals known as megafauna.
According to the scientists, led by the University of New South Wales, the giant turtles were alive when people known as the Lapita arrived in the area about 3,000 year ago. They found the turtle leg bones, but not shells, which they said suggested humans drove the giant turtles to extinction.

The bones, discovered in a graveyard on a site on the island of Efate that was known to be home to a Lapita settlement, date about 300 years after humans' arrival.
The majority of the bones, found above an even older human graveyard, were from the creatures' legs, which was their fleshy and edible part, say the scientists.
The scientists say this was proof that the turtles were hunted by humans to extinction for their meat.

"It is the first time this family of turtles has been shown to have met with humans and there are many turtle bones in the middens. People arrived on Vanuatu 3100 years ago and the village middens, which are the rubbish dumps that provided these bones, date to 2800 years ago.

"So there's essentially a 300-year gap between those first human arrivals and the end of these turtles in these middens," team leader Dr Trevor Worthy said.
The findings have been published in the 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' journal.

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