Study finds that humans wiped out 20% of all bird species due to overhunting during the last 50,000 years.
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A new study reveals that 469 species of birds have been wiped off the face of the Earth by humans over the last 50 thousand years. 

Avians endured a significant extinction event that started around 20 thousand years ago, but actual numbers could be much higher, according to Weizmann Institute and Tel Aviv University scientists. 

The researchers concluded that the majority of the extinct species were flightless and lived on islands. 

Prime examples are the Moa that went extinct in New Zealand in the 17th century and the Dodo from the island of Mauritius that went extinct in the 1600s. 

The extinctions coincided with the arrival of humans on islands who needed to feed their community.  

Shai Meiri of the School of Zoology at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University and his team are putting the blame squarely on humans due to the humongous amount of charred bird remains uncovered at ancient human sites.   

Human hunters targeted large birds like Australia’s 9 ft tall Mihirung, a flightless bird that lived up to 50 thousand years ago, was because they provided more food.  

Another factor was that humans brought invasive species like pigs, rats, and cats when they migrated to different isolated islands.  

The study also found that the number of flightless bird species that have become extinct is more than double the amount of flightless avian species still around today. 

Alarmingly, 68% of flightless birds that are known to science have become extinct.  

‘Our study indicates that before the major extinction event of the past millennia, many more large, even giant, as well as flightless avian lived on our globe, and the diversity of birds living on islands was much greater than today,’ Meiri said in a statement.

‘We hope that our findings can serve as warning signals regarding bird species currently threatened with extinction, and it is, therefore, important to check whether they have similar features.’ 

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