The disappearance of the giant flightless moa bird in New Zealand is a cautionary example of how quickly humans can render a species extinct. However, it turns out that a relatively small number of people are required to accomplish this dubious feat. New research suggests that the human population in New Zealand numbered no more than 2500 at the time of the moa’s extinction. That is far less than previous estimates, and calls into question research absolving humans of mass extinctions in other areas due to their small populations. How did such a small population wipe out such a large, established animal in less than 100 years?
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