Humans can be challenging neighbors: We build cities, we turn forests into fields and we enjoy eating a host of other species. Scientists know these actions take a toll on the animals that live around us.
A new paper published in the journal Science has gone to drastic new lengths to quantify exactly what that toll is. It finds a stark correlation between the arrival of humans or our lost relatives like Neanderthals on a new continent and the subsequent extinction of larger mammals that leaves behind smaller survivors. In short, mammals on average have been shrinking for more than 100,000 years, and it’s all humans’ fault.
In an article for Newsweek, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Professor Alison Boyer has studied birds on isolated islands, where they tend to act like mammals in ecosystems and where she says exactly the same trend occurs.