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Humans have killed off most of Earth’s big mammals. In 200 years, cows could be biggest ones left.

The extinctions occurred not very long after the birth of us as a species. It just seems to be something that we do.


DOYLE RICE:
Throughout history, humans and their ancestors have perfected the art of killing big animals. Now, a new study finds that as humans spread around the globe, extinction of large mammals soon followed. Massive mammals such as wooly mammoths, elephant-sized ground sloths and various saber-toothed cats roamed the Earth between 2.6 million and 12,000 years ago. Now they — and most of the rest of the big ones — are extinct…

This “downsizing” trend may continue as vulnerable and endangered animals go extinct, study authors said. In 200 years, the largest terrestrial mammal left may be the domestic cow. The average weight of mammals would also plummet to less than six pounds — roughly the size of a Yorkshire terrier. This would be down from an average of 37 pounds now and 216 pounds 125,000 years ago…

“It wasn’t until human impacts started becoming a factor that large body sizes made mammals more vulnerable to extinction,” said study co-author Kate Lyons of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The extinctions “occurred not very long after the birth of us as a species. It just seems to be something that we do”.’ SOURCE…

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