Genyornis

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Genyornis
Conservation status: Fossil
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Dromornithiformes
Family:Dromornithidae
Genus:Genyornis
Species:G. newtoni
Binomial name
Genyornis newtoni
Stirling & Zietz, 1896

Genyornis (Genyornis newtoni) was a genus of large, flightless bird that lived in Australia until about 50,000 years ago. Many species became extinct in Australia around that time, coinciding with the arrival of humans.

It is not clear to what degree the Dromornithidae were carnivores. The massive, crushing beaks at least of some species suggest that these were a combination of predators and scavengers, much like today's hyenas. Their closest living relatives are waterfowl.

A study has been performed1 where more than 700 Genyornis eggshell fragments were dated. Through this means, it was determined that Genyornis declined and became extinct over a short period of time -- too short for it to be plausibly explained by climate change. The authors considered this to be a very good indication that the entire mass extinction event in Australia was due to human activity, rather than climate change.

See also

References

  1. Miller GH, Magee JW, Johnson BJ, Fogel ML, Spooner NA, McCulloch MT, Ayliffe LK., Pleistocene extinction of Genyornis newtoni: human impact on australian megafauna (1999), Science 283, 205-8.de:Genyornis
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