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First People In Bahamas Caused Bird Extinctions, Displacement

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KEY POINTS

  • Several bird species in the Bahamian islands were lost or displaced after humans arrived
  • Researchers say the human impact is the “most likely culprit” for the losses
  • The others that survived are said to be more resilient but they still need to be protected

Did the early humans really have a more harmonious relationship with the environment? A new study found that human arrival in the Bahamian islands actually led to the loss and displacement of several bird species.

Humanity today is facing an extinction crisis, which many believe is caused by human actions quite unlike the previous mass extinctions that were caused by natural events. These actions include overfishing, deforestation, pollution and the burning of fossil fuels.

Does this necessarily mean those earlier humans without the tools for massive deforestation and harnessing fossil fuels were more harmonized with the environment? According to a new study, maybe not.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a pair of researchers studied over 7,600 fossils from 32 sites on 15 islands in the Bahamian Archipelago, logging a total of 137 species of migrant and resident birds. They found evidence that human arrival in the Bahamas some 1,000 years ago contributed to the displacement or even extinction of several bird species.

For instance, many bird species in the islands were still present about 900 years ago and possibly coexisted with humans for some time. But some of them eventually disappeared while others, such as the Abaco parrot, were kept to just one or two islands even when there are other islands in the area with similar environments, a University of California-Riverside (UC Riverside) news release said.

Bahamas Pictured: Bahamas coast. Photo: Yolanda Rolle/Pixabay

“We wondered why those parrots aren’t found in the middle