After studying some 50,000 years old burnt eggshells that were found in an archeological site, the scientists concluded that the early humans ate a bird’s eggs to extinction. The Genyornis newtoni was a flightless giant bird that used to roam on the Australian continent.
According to the computer simulations based on the skeletons that were discovered on the site, the bird was approximately seven feet tall and it had an average weight of five hundred pounds. Only one egg produced by the giant bird would weigh as much as three and a half pounds, which is the equivalent of an average modern-day cantaloupe.
Upon studying the burnt remains of the Genyornis newtoni’s eggs, the scientists concluded that the early humans used them as a nourishment source. At it seems they were really into omelets as the humans ate a bird’s eggs to extinction.
A professor of geological sciences at the Boulder Colorado University, Gifford Miller, said that the remains of the giant bird’s eggs were found on more than two hundred sites across the Australian continent, and all of them presented signs of fire processing, in other words, they were cooked.
Eggshells were found in 2,000 different locations across the Australian continent, but only 200 places presented signs of human interference. The rest of 1,800 were hidden in sandy places, locations that are usually used by birds to hide their eggs from potential predators.
The 50,000 age of the egg remains was established by the scientists using the carbon dating process. This procedure is done by analyzing the decay degree of the carbon molecules presented in the fossil and comparing them to the pre-established carbon concentrations throughout the geological eras.
In order to get accurate data, they also used the OSL dating technique which uses a type of luminescence that is optically stimulated to render the age of a fossil. The OSL determines when the fossil was last touched by direct sunlight. The results rendered the eggshells to be approximately 54,000 years old.
The further analysis of the egg remains showed that they weren’t burnt in a wildfire, but rather with a source of heat that was localized, a fire that was built by another creature. The position in which the fossilized eggshells were found suggests that after cooking the eggs, the early humans used to scatter the shells around the fire.
This is the first evidence that suggests that the early human population from the Australian continent used to feed on the megafauna that is now extinct. Seeing as the humans ate a bird’s eggs to extinction, it would be nice to see how their presence disrupted the life cycle of other now-extinct animals.
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