Thursday, July 06, 2006

Extinctions update Dodos Killed by Natural Disaster, Scientists Say
Scientists who unearthed a mass dodo grave in Mauritius say they have found evidence showing the birds were killed by a natural disaster long before humans arrived on the Indian Ocean island.

Most theories about how the dodo became extinct blame early settlers who found the plump flightless bird on the Indian Ocean island in the 16th century and hunted it relentlessly.
"There are indications that the fossil-rich layer represents the result of natural disaster wiping out a significant part of the Dodo-ecotope," a statement by the researchers said.

Hmmm. Doesn't give much data on the actual site itself, but it seems rather unconvincing on the face of it. Mass graves aren't exactly unknown in either the recent or distant past and can be caused by flash floods, tsunamis, etc. Depends on how many individuals were there relative to the island's total population and whether it indicates a truly island-wide event.