The Extinction of the Megafauna

It’s another quicky of a DpSU today. It’s called Did Humans Cause Dinosaur Extinctions? and argues that humans could have been the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs in the same way as we have recently killed off a subspecies of the Black Rhino. He says:

This confirms what researchers generally observe about the extinction of species: The primary cause is interaction with humans. When mankind moves into an area, some of the first animals to face destruction are those that are the most threatening, such as the megafauna. Thus, recent centuries have seen the demise of such giants as Haast’s eagle and the moa, a giant flightless bird.

Giant Haast's eagle attacking New Zealand moa

What an interesting example those are for him to use… I’d have gone with the Mammoth myself. As it is, even before I saw he mentioned them I was going to use them myself to argue against his thesis, which he only gets around to in his closing paragraphs:

Thus, it stands to reason that if humans primarily cause the current extinctions of megafauna, then they may have caused past extinctions as well. That could help explain the plethora of legends, found in all cultures, of heroes killing dragons, which were probably dinosaurs in many cases.

Why did the dinosaurs go extinct? One very likely factor—among others, such as climate changes after the Flood—is the same reason the black rhinoceros and so many other megafauna have died out: People moved in and eliminated them.

I haven’t got time to tease him for voicing the heresy of uniformitarianism – supposing that what happens now is the same as in the past – something that he attacks ‘evolutionists’ for doing. Nor will I go over the dinosaurs=dragons thing.

But back to the New Zealand birds in question. You may recognise the Moa as the bird in the image under What is this blog above and to the right – additionally the favicon of this site is a footprint from the bird. As depicted above, the Haast’s Eagle was its primary predator and thus went extinct as the population of the Moa declined.

Now, Homo sapiens only arrived in New Zealand less than a thousand years ago. The effect of this was fairly immediate and obvious, what with the forest fires; the extinction of Haast’s Eagle and many other birds; the introduction of mammals that aren’t bats, such as rats and dogs… And, of course, when the Europeans arrived several hundred years later they did even more damage. Truly, this is evidence that humans cause great harm to the ecosystem. Mr Thomas’ idea is thus, on the surface, rather plausible.

We know from fossil evidence that New Zealand had dinosaurs, that much is clear. We also have no evidence to suggest that any dinosaurs have so much as come into contact with humans here – for example the superficially closest legend, that of the Taniwha, clearly aren’t dinosaurs. The obvious question here is why this is? Fitting it into the biblical chronology as you would a square peg in a round hole you are forced to conclude that, for some reason, dinosaurs never made it back to New Zealand after the Flood. But then, how did all these Ratites (an order of flightless birds dating to the Cretaceous) get here when the dinosaurs didn’t? And what about the rats? These are not things that creationism can explain – they are explicable when evolution and “long ages” are taken into account, along with continental drift etc.

Not only does the flood not explain the fauna of New Zealand, we have another problem with this idea of Mr Thomas’ – the total lack of evidence in favour of it. I could have just written “that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” as this post and be done with it – he got nothing.

When real scientists hypothesise that species x became extinct due to human hunting they need evidence to have their idea accepted. They must search for fossils with arrow points stuck inside them; find bones with human tool marks on them; track the migration of humans into the region and plot it against x‘s population distribution; find evidence that a the group of fossils is where it is because they were pushed off the cliff rather than that they merely fell… Agency is not assumed – evidence must be collected in favour of the hypothesis.

But with this idea we have more evidence that the Moa still survives in the forests of Fiordland than humans ever so much as met dinosaurs – and considering that the ‘Moa survival’ is like a local, small-scale version of the cryptozoologic Bigfoot, you can see what I mean by “he got nothing.”

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6 thoughts on “The Extinction of the Megafauna

  1. My take-away on reading the article was more a back-handed smack to evolution, people who think Earth is older than 6000 years, and a nod to young-Earthers who MUST suppose that humans and dinosaurs lived together despite ALL evidence pointing to the contrary. I found nothing in his article that was actually discussing new research related to dinosaurs at all, it seemed more like what a news channel would do on a slow news day.

    • It’s what I sometimes call a “type Io” article – he finds a recent topic and then talks about a tangentially related creationist talking-point.
      If he actually had anything I’d have waited until the weekend to post, like the one from earlier in the week.

  2. Pingback: Another of These Man-Dinosaur Ones « Eye on the ICR

  3. Pingback: Mistakes Were Made – But Not By Us « Eye on the ICR

  4. It might be noted that with animals that have gone extinct due to human hunting in recent times (or the last 10 or 15 thousand years, there often IS hard evidence for it, in the form of tool or weapon marks on the bones, depictions of hunts on caves, etc. In contrast, there is not a single compelling case of similar evidence to back up the claim that humans hunted dinosaurs to extinction (or even lived at the same time), and lots of evidence indicating that humans and non-avian dinosaurs are separated by over 60 million years.

  5. Thomas’s article also falsely states that the primary cause of extinction of species is “interaction with humans” and this has been confirmed by “what researchers generally observe.” Both assertions are sheer nonsense. Although there is evidence that humans caused some relatively recent extinctions, and will probably cause more in the near future, since humans were not even around for most of earth history (by all reliable evidence) during which millions of species went extinct, they obviously could not have caused most extinctions. Moreover, there is a lot of evidence that climatic factors and/or meteorite/comet impacts caused the major extinctions at the end of the Permian and again at the end of the Cretaceous, when a large percentage of species went extinct. In short, millions of species have gone extinct over geologic time, and for the above reasons and others, almost no researchers (except some YECs) think humans caused most of them. .
    Another thought… if Thomas believes legends about heroes slaying dragons were true and accurate accounts, why would they not have kept the bones of the dragons? Surely at least some of these dragon slayers would have kept and preserved them as impressive trophies and proof of their successful exploits.

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