Academic rigour

The researchers at the University of New South Wales have released a study suggesting the marsupial “lion” died out as a result of climate change, not because of competition with humans.

After analysing the chemical structure of fossil teeth, the researchers concluded thylacoleo carnifex was a highly specialised apex predator, hunting primarily in forests and unlikely to be capable of competing in more open geography.

Therefore, they conclude, the climate change that impacted the Australian landscape significantly during the “lion’s” nearly 2 million year reign on the continent was responsible for its extinction, not the humans who just happened to have arrived about 15,000 years before its demise.

We’re not in a position to challenge the chemical analysis of the teeth, this isn’t a scientific blog after all. But there are some significant questions that jump out at us;

1. How big was the sample size used and how geographically diverse were the locations they were discovered?

The newsdesk report doesn’t say and the actual study isn’t available to us yet but I have a memory of a previous report about the “lion” that suggests around 65 individuals have been found to date (if anyone can correct this, please do so below).

2. What’s the time line of the known existence of the “lion” against ice ages and human arrival?

The marsupial was around for about 2 million years, dying out 35 to 40 thousand years ago.

There have been many glacial and interglacial periods during the current ice age (yes, we are currently in an ice age), during which the flora of Australia was significantly impacted.

Humans first arrived around 60 thousand years ago.

Coincidentally, the Australian megafauna mainly died out 15 thousand years after the humans arrived.

Bill’s Opinion

Prima facie, this looks like some solid scientific research followed by blatant propaganda and over-reach.

The analysis of the fossils is probably solid; the animals likely did live and hunt in forests.

Claiming that as the reason for their extinction because the climate started changing 350,000 years ago seems an extremely long bow to draw.

For example, why then did it take 305,000 years of climate change to kill them off, along with all of the other major fauna and, coincidently, this was just 15,000 years after a new apex predator had arrived replete with mechanical hunting advantages and “fire stick” land clearance techniques?

Occam’s Razor works on the principle that the answer that relies on the fewest assumptions is likely to be the correct one.

An assumption that humans arrived and out-competed with the previous apex predator beats the dual assumptions that they co-existed but the animals failed to evolve to gradually-changing conditions over several thousand years.

There’s another point in favour of the “humans killed them off” theory; researchers try to find a “climate change” hook to all their research because that’s where the money flows.

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