The fascinating lives and puzzling demise of some of the largest animals on earth.
Until a few thousand years ago, creatures that could have been from a sci-fi thriller¯including gorilla-sized lemurs, 800-pound birds, crocodiles that weighed a ton or more¯roamed the earth. These great beasts, or “megafauna,” lived on every habitable continent and on many islands. With a handful of exceptions, all are now gone.
What caused the disappearance of these prehistoric behemoths? Paleomammologist Ross D. E. MacPhee explores that question, examining the leading extinction theories, weighing the evidence, and presenting his own conclusions. He shows how theories of human overhunting and catastrophic climate change fail to explain critical features of these extinctions, and how new thinking is needed to elucidate these mysterious losses. He comments on how past extinctions can shed light on future losses, and on the possibility of bringing back extinct species through genetic engineering. Gorgeous four-color illustrations by Peter Schouten bring these megabeasts back to life in vivid detail.
"Ross McPhee's End of the Megafauna is a marvellous survey of what we know about the magnificent creatures who shared our world just 12,000 years ago, and he is brilliantly served by the superb illustrations of Australian artist Peter Schouten. There are also excellent maps and diagrams, helping you remember the difference between your Pleistocene and Holocene. The book is also a compelling, sometimes demanding and scientifically rigorous detective story." -- The Sunday Times
"Palaeomammalogist Ross MacPhee examines the theories, such as human over-hunting, climate change, emergent infections and food-web disruption; articulates the ongoing debate around them and what that might tell us about today's biodiversity crisis; and takes a look at de-extinction. Packed with evocative artwork by Peter Schouten." -- Nature
"In End of the Megafauna, palaeontologist Ross MacPhee explores the current hypotheses, weighing up the evidence with academic rigour and delivering it with pop-science clarity." -- BBC Wildlife
"Delving far deeper into the subject matter than anything you would have likely experienced before, this is a fascinating examination of a long-forgotten past and proof that giant life didn't end with the dinosaurs. A great gift for those who like their history with bite." -- How It Works
"... highly readable book..." -- The British Association of Nature Conservationists Magazine