Humans And Fauna In Australia

My Essay on Australian People And Fauna

As not such a diligent student, I’ve been looking for some best assignment help around. However, after deep research, I have written this paper myself. It fully reflects my thoughts about the role of a teacher as well as my vision on effective teaching. To start with, it is believed that Aboriginal people occupied most of Australia by 35,000 (at least all favorable environments) (Flood, 1995). Therefore, Aboriginal people would have of the environment in which they lived with the megafauna. The exact nature of the co-existence between aboriginal people and the megafauna is still controversial. Food for Thought I find it hard to believe, being someone who has come into contact with mankind, that the first Australian’s would pass up on the opportunity that the megafauna presented. The megafauna would appear to have provided the Aoborigines with an excellent source of food.

Flannery, (1994) states that when Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in 1835, he noticed the relative tameness of the animals there, and proposed that it due to isolation of the islands. Australia has had quite a unique history in that it as been physically isolated from the rest of the world’s landmasses for over 40 million years. This long period of isolation has given rise to an unique flora and fauna, that was largely derived from the ancient supercontinent Gondwana. Flannery suggests that the absence of significant carnivores in Australia, together with its long isolation, evolved fauna that were naive to predators, let alone highly skilled hunter gatherers. It was this naivity of the animals that contributed to their extinction.

These statements are problematic due to the lack of evidence to support them. Much effort has been made in the search of evidence to support humans hunting megafauna. This effort has only produced associations between humans and megafauna (e.g. human artefacts and megafaunal bone). It should be noted that these associations do not prove that megafauna were actively hunted, only that they co-exsist in the same environments. There are Aboriginal legends that describe how they hunted “giant kangaroos” (Flood, 1995).

Flood also describes how in the Northern Territory artwork has been found that many believe depict Diprotodon. At Lake Menindee, NSW, bones of both extinct and modern species have been found along with fireplaces and ‘Kartan-type’ stone tools (‘Kartan’ is named after the large tool industry that was found on Kangaroo Island, SA) (Tindale, 1955). More recently, Liverpool plains in north-eastern NSW has produced three sites which claimed to have humans associated with megafauna (Flood, 1995). Lime Springs, is the only site of the three in which the findings have been published. Lime Springs revealed many burnt bones belonging to Procoptodon, Diprotodon, Macropus titan, Protemnodon, and Sthenurus, clearly associated with stone tools and campfires in a stratigraphic succession.

The sediments at Lime Springs have been dated at 6,000 but as explained above they have been interpreted as being reworked. Flood, believes that what probably transpired was that a group of Aboriginal people camped on top of a sediment layer containing megafaunal bones, the bones were burnt by their cooking fires, then everything was subsequently blown into the swamp. There are other sites that show clear associations between megafauna and humans such as: incisions and charring of bones at Mammoth Cave, WA, (Archer et al., 1980); and aboriginal middens and megafaunal bones at Lake Tandou Lunette western NSW, (Hope et al., 1983). What scientists needed was direct evidence of slaughtering of the megafauna. On other continents this problem was easily solved by the presence of abundant kill sites (Martin, 1984). In Australia we have not as yet discovered major kill sites.

At a megafaunal site in south-western Victoria, Spring Creek many bones have been found with cut marks on at least 3.8% of all the post cranial elements (Vanderwal and Fullagar, 1989). Most of the marks are thought to have been a result of Thylacoleo carnifex (Fig ***) gnawing on the bones. In 1984, a Diprotodon tooth was found at the site that had twenty eight grooves notched into the surface of it. It is almost certain that these grooves are man made (Fig **). It would be very difficult to believe that Thylacoleo would have made such perfect grooves in the tooth, and there is also the question why an animal would chew on a tooth in the first place.

Vanderwal and Fullagar suggest that that the engravings on the tooth might be “tally marks for an ephemeral activity, or perhaps doodles while passing away time”. The only direct evidence that suggests that Aboriginal people actively hunted megafauna comes from semi-arid NSW, at the Cuddie Springs site (previously mentioned). Researches have found stone tools within the succession with blood and hair on them, which was positively identified to belong to Macropus titan and Diprotodon (Flood, 1995). This was done by extracting DNA from bones of extinct species and then matching their’fingerprint’ with that of the blood residues on the stone tools. Flood points out that this work is as yet unpublished.

Nevertheless it indicates that Aboriginal people were at least scavenging the carcasses of the dead megafauna. How it Transpired The extinction of the megafauna is a subject that I believe will remain controversial for years to come. Many theories have been proposed that have a high degree of validity, but in general there are two schools of thought when it comes to megafaunal extinction. Those that believe it was climate induced, and those that believe that it was Anthropocentric (Flannery, 1994). Unfortunately this essay has not focused on the climatic model. If it had, maybe my conclusions would be different. The essence of the model is that Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions were a direct result of a dramatic world-wide climate change (Horton, 1990).

The environment changed too fast for the animals to cope with and hence they died out. Several weaknesses with the climatic model have been noted. The majority of the megafauna in Australia has managed to survive 16 out of the last 17 major glaciations (Flannery, 1995); Pleistocene extinctions occurred at different times and at different intensities in different landmasses; There hasn’t been a good explanation as to why so many of the larger taxa became extinct and so few of the smaller taxa (Flood, 1994). Aboriginal people coexisted with megafauna in Australia for at least 30,000 years. They lived in the same environments at the same time, evident by the bones from both groups that have been found together in sediments. The way in which the megafauna and humans interacted is still uncertain.

There is growing evidence, such as blood on stone tools and an engraved Diprotodon tooth, that suggests that humans actively predated on the megafauna. An Extinction Scenario: Humans first arrived in Australia gradually spreading around the continent using fire and hunting. The megafauna were relatively slow moving and naive to predators. The megafauna that survived the initial impact of human hunters, finally died at the end of the Pleistocene when the Australia was undergoing the driest period it had Bibliography Archer, M., Crawford, I.M. and Merrilees, D., 1980 ‘Incisions, breakages and charring, probably man-made, in fossil bones from Mammoth Cave, Western Australia’.

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