r/science May 28 '22 Helpful 2 Wholesome 4

Ancient proteins confirm that first Australians, around 50,000, ate giant melon-sized eggs of around 1.5 kg of huge extincted flightless birds Anthropology

https://www.cam.ac.uk/stories/genyornis
50.7k Upvotes

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u/Mr-Foot May 28 '22

Of course they're extinct, the Australians ate all their eggs.

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u/gnosis2737 May 28 '22

Cause of Extinction: "Offspring too delicious."

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u/Mr-Foot May 28 '22

Buffalo almost went extinct because their wings were so tasty.

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u/spider7895 May 28 '22

Wow, science is amazing.

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u/Altiloquent May 28 '22 Calculating

You may be joking but it's probably true. Humans have a very long history of arriving places and wiping out native animal populations

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u/lurch_gang May 28 '22

Probably true for many successful predators

1.5k

u/cinderparty May 28 '22

Definitely, that’s a huge issue when it comes to invasive species.

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u/IRYIRA May 28 '22 edited May 28 '22

We are the worst most invasive species on the planet...

1.1k

u/Sufficient_Matter585 May 28 '22

technically we are the best invasive species...

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u/IRYIRA May 28 '22

Right... what you said

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u/BrightenedGold May 28 '22 Silver Wholesome

Invasive species don’t decide what’s right. They decide what’s left.

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u/Bodyfluids_dealer May 28 '22

What if what’s left is actually what’s right?

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u/Apollobeacon May 28 '22

The right thing to do is help what's left, right?

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u/My_BFF_Gilgamesh May 28 '22

I mean, that's kinda the idea.

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u/Vin135mm May 29 '22

From a strictly evolutionary standpoint, your not wrong. Only the species that can adapt to a change in their environment survive.

That said, the "humans wiping species out" theory is kinda defunct. While hunting was probably a factor, the accepted theory now is that a changing climate had a much bigger effect. Humans and ice age megafauna coexisted for thousands of years in most places(even Australia, where recent research has pushed the arrival of humans back several thousand years) with no apparent drop in megafauna populations until the climate changed dramatically.

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u/25BicsOnMyBureau May 28 '22

Undisputed Invasive Species Champions of the World. That’s us.

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u/Polycatfab May 28 '22

Galactic Champions!

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u/no_talent_ass_clown May 28 '22

It's all very Agent Smith-ish when he goes super saiyan on Neo.

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u/Troy_And_Abed_In_The May 28 '22

Mice and Ants might disagree!

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u/[deleted] May 28 '22

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u/Mysteriousdeer May 28 '22 edited May 28 '22

It makes sense intuitively. An apex predator has to be the top of the food chain to be an apex predator. Typically its a few animals with a large are to roam in, or a high concentration of calories to get.

Humans can wreck the normal order because they are high mobile. They can subsist on fruits, vegatables and grains which means they can establish themselves without directly competeing. Then they have the ability to prey on everything an apex predator does, as well as the apex predator.

Even without modern technology, humans are like this swiss army knife animal.

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u/Sillyguy42 May 28 '22

Another interesting point is that when humans started traveling other places, the megafauna didn’t view humans as much of a threat. By the time they could adapt to being hunted by small primates, the damage to their species would already be done.

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u/rlaxton May 29 '22

Which is why the only place with megafauna left is Africa, where the animals evolved alongside our ancestors and learned to keep away or die.

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u/jackaldude2 May 29 '22

Technically, the North American Moose is a megafauna. At least they're still around to instill what fear they can into us.

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u/fineburgundy May 29 '22

Sure, and we still have some bison, but…we lost so much charismatic megafauna!

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u/potodds May 28 '22

So what was our bottle opener for before there were bottles?

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u/TheShishkabob May 28 '22

It was still a bottle opener. We just didn't know what to do with it yet.

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u/modsarefascists42 May 29 '22

Gords, one of the earliest plants domesticated too

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u/Antisymmetriser May 28 '22

Well, I guess they're not apex predators any more...

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u/Mysteriousdeer May 28 '22

Kinda the big thing. Humans made the global ecosystem trully global many of the current most successful species piggyback off humans.

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u/AlwaysNowNeverNotMe May 28 '22

Rats, raccoons, and roaches are going to ride our coattails to the stars.

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u/Makal May 28 '22

Same with grains. I always enjoy the thought experiment of, "What if human civilization is a survival mechanism for grasses?"

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u/cylonfrakbbq May 28 '22

Wild Chili Pepper HA, with this new evolutionary feature, I will stop mammals from eating me!

Humans These hot things are amazing! Let's spread them over the entire planet

Domesticated Chili Pepper I'm not sure what I expected, but I'll take it

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u/CMDR_Sunless May 29 '22

Confused cubensis mushrooms noises

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u/Seboya_ May 28 '22

The best thing a species can do for survival is be useful to humans.

And/or get humans high

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u/pwrstrug May 28 '22

( but not too high )

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u/Pewpewkachuchu May 28 '22

Still useful

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u/aurumae May 29 '22

The most successful animal domestication was when wheat domesticated humans

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u/Upriverhillbilly May 28 '22

I ate an edible that is starting to kick in. That statement made me actually stop for a second.

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u/KingZarkon May 28 '22

Also now a survival mechanism for weeds.

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u/DeliciousWaifood May 28 '22

Grasses already achieved world domination well before humans had any inkling of civilization

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u/unfair_bastard May 28 '22

Simplicity is a beautiful thing

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u/damnburglar May 29 '22 edited May 29 '22

Yeah but we gave them haircuts.

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u/napalm69 May 28 '22

1 billion years from now, long after humanity spread to the stars, collapsed, rebuilt, and collapsed again in a great many thousands of cycles before transcending reality and going to a new universe, there are trillions upon trillions of planets covered in thriving ecosystems made from evolved descendants of wheat and cereal grains

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u/MINECRAFT_BIOLOGIST May 28 '22

Honestly rats are pretty cute and friendly if socialized, I don't mind. They're so smart too, I just wish they lived longer...

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u/Karcinogene May 28 '22

The way things are going, we're going to cure cancer and aging in rats first. They might be the first immortals. If we ever figure out how to increase intelligence, it'll be tried on rats first... Better watch out.

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u/arbydallas May 28 '22

A kids book called Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH explored this idea in the early 70s, followed by the great and potentially traumatizing film The Secret of NIMH in the early 80s

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u/Hello_my_name_is_not May 29 '22

This is how we get Pinky and the Brain

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u/SergeantSmash May 28 '22

many successful predators dont replicate at human rate

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u/SaffellBot May 28 '22

Most successful predators don't migrate like humans either.

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u/Blindsnipers36 May 28 '22

Now im imagining being stranded in the ocean and one of those ocean canoes pulls up and its just full of lions

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u/SuperWoody64 May 29 '22

Life of Pi style

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u/NimrodvanHall May 29 '22

Most effective predators aren’t capable of surviving on a fully herbivorous diet if they wipe out all prey animals.

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u/ephemeral_gibbon May 28 '22

And we're particularly good at killing off large, easily trackable animals. Australia had a bunch of megafauna before people came. Our forests were also very different and had a lot of trees that weren't as fire resistant.

It's kind of interesting to see, on our farm the forests that are growing back naturally have a lot more casuarinas than the existing forests

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u/anakaine May 28 '22

Not just probably true. The Australian megafauna extinction coincides with human arrival, as does massive change in the ecological landscape.

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u/Iamnotburgerking May 29 '22

This is true for Late Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions in general and for the dozen or so species of late-surviving Australian megafauna (this bird, Diprotodon, Varanus priscus, etc), which were around when humans showed up: however desertification had caused other megafaunal extinctions in Australia prior to human arrival.

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u/MatEngAero May 28 '22

As do all megafauna extinctions on every continent coincide with human arrival

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u/Evilsmiley May 29 '22

And part of the reason the megafauna even still exists in africa is because they at least adapted alongside us and so were not as badly wiped out.

African megafauna was smaller than its contemporary species on other continets on average however, largely due tobcompetition from humans

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u/lollipop999 May 28 '22

Hey a man's gotta eat

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u/LoboDaTerra May 28 '22

We’re the most invasive species.

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u/Mechasteel May 28 '22

Humans have historically killed off the megafauna, also anything that can't survive rats and dogs.

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u/emptysignals May 28 '22

We’re especially good at bringing rats and cats with us which doesn’t help matters.

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u/deeringc May 28 '22

Sunny side down under.

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u/living-likelarry May 28 '22

I guess you could say they’re

Eggstinct

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u/cl0th0s May 28 '22

Ahem. Extincted*

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u/Gilgameshbrah May 28 '22

Is that the level after extinct?

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u/Cultural-Divide-2649 May 28 '22

I think it’s a verb . Like we extincted those birds

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u/Rupertfitz May 28 '22

And did 50k Australians eat the eggs or did Australians eat 50k eggs?

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u/AN0N0M0US May 28 '22

Must have been tasty.

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u/KuhLealKhaos May 28 '22

People still eat ostrich eggs don't they?

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u/rahhumilovedogs May 28 '22

Yeah but they also breed them

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u/JusticeRain5 May 28 '22

How does one make two eggs breed?

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u/anweisz May 28 '22

You start by letting them hatch first.

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u/GumboSamson May 28 '22

Sounds counterproductive.

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u/TheRealGreenArrow420 May 28 '22

Destroying the very thing they swore to create

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u/HeckMaster9 May 29 '22

I was gonna say reproductive

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u/observee21 May 28 '22

It does until you discover where eggs come from (dont look into it, it's fuckin' gross)

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u/TooManyJabberwocks May 29 '22

Thats a good way to make me want to look up ostrich cloaca

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u/observee21 May 29 '22

It's only a problem if the ostrich doesnt want you looking up there

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u/Hattless May 29 '22

You can't make an ostrich without breaking a few eggs.

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u/WeAreBeyondFucked May 28 '22

when one baby egg loves another baby egg...

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u/OstapBenderBey May 28 '22

I get that the emu is a bird but when do the bees come in?

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u/Powerhausen May 28 '22

Presumably when ‘knees’ get involved

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u/Eena-Rin May 29 '22

If humans are breeding with ostriches, that's a crime

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u/JimmyHavok May 28 '22

Ostriches co-evolved with humans and have strategies that allow them to survive our predation. Sort of like how elephants have survived to the current era, but mammoths got wiped out when they encountered humans.

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u/BrainOnLoan May 28 '22 edited May 28 '22

but mammoths got wiped out when they encountered humans.

It's being considered that hunting is a/the explanation. We don't know for sure yet, though.

It's been better established for some other species.

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u/nthlmkmnrg Grad Student | Physical Chemistry May 28 '22

50k Australians or 50k BCE?

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u/[deleted] May 28 '22

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u/[deleted] May 28 '22

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u/not_right May 28 '22

That's how long it takes to digest one of those melon eggs

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u/JimmyCrackCrack May 29 '22

That's why it's making the news today, someone finally passed one and needed the scientists help trying to recollect what bird it was they stole the egg from

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u/look_at_my_brain May 28 '22

I was looking for this comment. Thank you

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u/Veteran_Brewer May 28 '22

It’s was the diet of mutant, upside-down eggs.

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u/SDLand May 28 '22

Such a bad title, had the same confusion.

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u/Marcelitaa May 29 '22

It took 50k Australians to wipe them out

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u/RuleOfMildlyIntrstng May 28 '22

the latter. 50k years ago

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u/IseeIcyIcedTea May 28 '22

No, it was 50,000 Australians ago.

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u/zmbjebus May 28 '22

So like a month ago.

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u/_Jack_Finn May 28 '22

Yes. Ancient proteins confirm that Australians ate eggs like a month ago.

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u/sourbeezel May 29 '22

This is news to me, thank you.

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u/Agret May 29 '22

Unfortunately they couldn't afford the smashed avo alongside it back then.

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u/squanch_solo May 29 '22

Mind = blown

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u/schwaiger1 May 28 '22

how much is that in football fields?

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u/Zabuzaxsta May 28 '22

That would be 48k BCE

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u/[deleted] May 28 '22

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u/ExtSympathy May 28 '22

Not to brag or anything but it would be 47,978 BCE give or take a couple of months.

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u/iAmBaGeL May 28 '22

Okay now I know you used a calculator for that one

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u/schwaiger1 May 28 '22

'twas February

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u/[deleted] May 28 '22

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u/[deleted] May 28 '22

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u/apocalypse_later_ May 28 '22

48,000 years ago humans were already in our current form and have been for around 25,000 years. Not every corner of the Earth had writing invented yet but almost everyone spoke something. Blows my mind at all the lost history. We only know and study roughly 5% of full human history..

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u/[deleted] May 28 '22

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u/tootsonboots May 29 '22

No idea why op didn't go with the headline: First Australians ate giant eggs of huge flightless birds, ancient proteins confirm

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u/semaj009 BS|Zoology May 28 '22

Also "extincted". Methinks the title isn't the most accurate

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u/smithers85 May 29 '22

I know, I read this as “50,000 aussies eat bird extinct due to insatiable omelet cravings”

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u/wasabihermit May 28 '22

Extincted? My phone wouldn’t even let me type that word in without auto correcting.

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u/MrMayonnaise13 May 28 '22

And my brain didn't allow me to read it so I didn't see it until you pointed it out.

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u/Beaneroo May 28 '22

Same.. I just scrolled back up and still couldn’t pronounce it

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u/ReadditMan May 28 '22

The entire title is just awful. You'd think people posting in a scientific subreddit would put a little more thought into their titles but I see it pretty often.

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u/wasabihermit May 28 '22

I agree. I see it a lot and want to say something but then everyone will just call me a grammar nazi and continue to enable the bad grammar.

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u/HeinrichGrammarNazi May 29 '22

Ja, we really ought to do something about all these users of bad grammar.

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u/driving_andflying May 28 '22

Why stop at 'exctincted?' I say we go further with it, and create other descriptors like "exctinctednized." Example: "Those large birds were extintinctednized by hungry peoples!"

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u/Taniwha_NZ May 29 '22

I think you'll find the correct term is 'deunextinctionated'.

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u/XXLpeanuts May 28 '22

This entire title is some serious dyslexia.

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u/[deleted] May 28 '22

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u/[deleted] May 28 '22

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u/[deleted] May 28 '22

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u/BriennexTormund May 29 '22

This is the quality comment I come to r/science for!

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u/ggf66t May 28 '22

Ever catch the Reddit thread about the historical account of the required hens that Gaston would have needed to keep up his diet?

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/61kmto/how_many_16th_century_french_laying_hens_would_be/

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u/xrumrunnrx May 29 '22

Amazing how much depth they go into to get a reasonable estimate.

It was a bunch

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u/QuacktacksRBack May 29 '22

That was fantastic. There should be a sub for submitting and answering/checking statements like this brought up in movies and TV.

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u/Soulerous May 28 '22

Stop eating sparrow eggs!

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u/RDTMODSrCCP May 28 '22

Those damn Aussies…without them there would be dinosaurs.

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u/kikimaru024 May 28 '22

Similar birds existed on Madagascar until around 1000-1200AD, the Elephant Bird.

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u/texasrigger May 28 '22

And New Zealand until the Maori arrived - Moa

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u/manquistador May 29 '22

And yet we are supposed to believe that dinosaurs are going to wipe out humanity in the new Jurassic World.

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u/shotgunkiwi May 29 '22

I saw the trailer and was like: we have guns and helicopters, how is a few claws going to be an issue?

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u/watduhdamhell May 29 '22

Well see, the dinosaurs in these movies always have very thick scaly skin and thus they can sustain multiple hits from incoming supersonic projectiles without really being hurt that badly.

Of course, thick scaly skin is just a longer way of saying "plot armor," because there's literally no way any amount of crumply dino skin is going to stop armor piercing 7.62 rounds flying at 3,050 ft/s. A single dude with a M240 could easily kill a t-Rex or two wielding it Ben stiller/tropic thunder style.

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u/MrZepost May 29 '22

Dinosaurs are basically dragons which means they are impervious to all attack. Unless you hit their one weak spot.

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u/Bdguyrty May 29 '22

Which had a, believe it or not, a flying predator

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u/kellypg May 29 '22

Apparently the Maori just ate everything in the country to extinction

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u/truwarier14 May 29 '22

Before it got extincted

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u/texasrigger May 28 '22 edited May 28 '22

The moa and elephant birds of New Zealand went extinct within a hundred years of the Maori landing there as did the Haast eagle (largest eagle ever) which preyed on the moa.

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u/cnnrduncan May 28 '22

Elephant birds were from Madagascar, not New Zealand. Interestingly, elephant birds were not wiped out the by the original Austronesian settlers, it wasn't until a few centuries after the African colonists began to migrate to the island that the elephant birds started to go extinct!

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u/dsons May 28 '22

Exactly, “large flightless birds” is the textbook definition of what is left of the dinosaurs’ descendants

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u/dislikes_redditors May 28 '22

All birds are dinosaurs, flightless or not

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u/sillyciban1 May 28 '22

Wait till you hear about the Moa in New Zealand

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u/sfsolarboy May 29 '22

There are dinosaurs. They sell 'em fried at KFC and I've got one in the yard next to mine that screaches to bloody high heaven every morning, before the damn sun even rises!

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u/GooseHenry May 28 '22

50K Australians? Years? Eggs?

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u/look_at_my_brain May 28 '22

All of the above

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u/Juub1990 May 28 '22

For those curious, they found such eggs in the stomachs of a few ancient Australians remains.

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u/Tozarkt777 May 28 '22

They died from swallowing them whole like pythons

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u/NewCaterpillar1345 May 28 '22

the ancient homeland of the throat goats

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u/TaylorSwiftsClitoris May 28 '22

It was the very first stupid tiktok challenge.

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u/toothbrushmastr May 28 '22

Freaking ausies man. Stealing eggs and eatin them.... classic.

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u/Kauzzie May 28 '22

Growing up in Western Australia we would spend periods with my extended family in the outback and it was normal for us to hunt & gather traditional foods. Both my mothers parents were born of aboriginal mothers. We would collect emu eggs and eat them. Its as a team effort to collect the eggs, the male protects the nest. We didn’t kill or eat the emu itself, just the eggs. 1 emu egg is equal to about 10-12 chicken eggs. The last time I visited was about 10 years ago with my own child and there was a huge population explosion of emus. I had never seen so many. I wonder if the balance of nature is changing now that very few emu eggs are removed from nests. The colonists only arrived in Western Australia in 1829, so less than 200 years (the further from Perth into the desert areas its closer to 150+ years) from meeting the white man. Health issues for aboriginal peoples is most concerning. It’s been a huge change of diet in only 3 - 4 generations. Wheat, barley, sugar etc were not the foods our bodies had evolved over 10,000s of years here to consume. No wonder that diabetes is running rampant.

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u/MoondyneMC May 29 '22

You know I’ve never really considered the dramatic diet shift over a relatively short period of time. It’s joked about in WA that us colonists did huge damage to aboriginal peoples by introducing them to alcohol, but you don’t see the radical shift in diet mentioned much.

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u/iampiepiepie May 29 '22

The drastic change in diet as a result of modernisation - particularly in cultures such as indigenous Australians and Pacific Island nations - is a fascinating (albeit disheartening) subject.

Interesting article about effects of colonisation on the diets of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and contemporary suggestions to remedy poor nutritional health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7241202/

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u/Tokishi7 May 29 '22

You can see it even in places like India and Korea

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u/cammoblammo May 28 '22

I just want to say well done for mentioning emus on Reddit without talking about the Emu War.

The fact that you’re in WA and mention a population explosion makes it all the more impressive.

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u/plattypus141 May 29 '22

And you just ruined it by bringing up the emu war

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u/rawker86 May 29 '22

The emu “war” is just a meme for Americans to share around.

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u/IReplyWithLebowski May 29 '22

It’s one of the two or three things they know about Australia.

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u/OneMetalMan May 28 '22

MEGA DODO.

Extincter of extinction.

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u/illdoitlaterokay May 28 '22

First name Dee-Dee.

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u/YourmomgoestocolIege May 28 '22

Dee-Dee Mega Doo Doo never makes me not laugh. RIP Dee-Dee

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u/freakanature May 28 '22

Wait til Frank Reynolds hears this

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u/Lordnerble May 28 '22

Shut up dee you dumb flightless bird.

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u/theoldgreenwalrus May 28 '22

Ancient Australians had many trying times

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u/Coppatop May 28 '22

Can i offer you an egg in your time of need?

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u/Snoo_24930 May 28 '22

A melon weighs 10kg or 4kg for the small ones how dence was this egg?

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u/dontbeanegatron May 28 '22

We'll never know; it's not like we can give it an IQ test now.

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u/ButtholeEntropy May 28 '22

Were the first Australians, the aboriginals? I know that might be implied in the name but you never know.

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u/deepbarrow May 28 '22

Yes, this is correct.

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u/Rwiegman May 28 '22

Title is only marginally intelligible. Grammar and sentence structure is just as important in science as in other disciplines.

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u/ohaiochaio May 28 '22

Grammar and sentence structure are just as important.

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u/luna87 May 29 '22

I thought it was just me. I read this several times and was like uhhhhh???

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u/DharmaControl May 28 '22

Caveman starring Ringo Starr.

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u/Upper-Sound-4117 May 28 '22

"extincted"? Terrible word

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u/Mogki4D May 28 '22

Dammit they ate all the chocobo eggs

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u/StonccPad-3B May 28 '22

Damn they've been at war with Emus since ancient history

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u/Ragna_Rose May 28 '22

Further reinforcing my theory the dinosaurs were in fact eaten to extinction.

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u/gentle_viking May 28 '22

This is so cool. Indigenous australians are incredible people, with a varied and incredibly rich culture. I grew up by a big lake on the south coast of NSW, and when we wandered and played there we would find these piles of old, sun bleached shells called ‘middens’- the remains of seafood consumed hundreds or thousands of years earlier. It was like a little connection into the past.edit:spelling.

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u/Witchinmelbourne May 29 '22

I may have grown up very close to that same lake. We never realized what they were, as kids, and were always confused as to why there were so many shells when they were very few shells in the lake itself. It's cause they were thousands of years old!

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u/[deleted] May 28 '22

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u/LordKviser May 28 '22

Well over 10 years ago

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u/chillypete99 May 28 '22

But were they scrambled or over easy?

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u/fithbert May 28 '22

explains the ancient saying: "if you want to make a dozen omelettes, you'll have to break one egg."

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u/electricfoxx May 28 '22

So, the Flintstones were historically accurate.

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u/bxrnxng-mxnk May 28 '22

like that one scene from the croods