The Royal Society Biology Journal published a research paper claiming that human hunting may have caused the extinction of Australian megafauna.

The latest scientific research claims that Australian prehistoric animals such as giant kangaroos, two-metre tall wombats, and large flightless birds got extinct because of human hunting, SBS News reported. It debunks the prevailing notion that climate change was the main culprit of the Australian megafauna extinction. These prehistoric animals disappeared around 40,000 years ago.

Megafauna are animals that existed during the Pleistocene period, from around 1.8 million years ago until their extinction. Some of these are the Diprotodon, the two-metre tall and three-tonne wombat-like creature which was believed to be the largest marsupial in Australia, the Genyornis, a large flightless bird that lived in grasslands and woodlands, and the Procoptodon, the two-metre tall and 230-kilogramme kangaroo.

James Cook University professor and research co-author Michael Bird told AAP that they examined all the evidences available. “We looked at … the dates of when humans arrived and what the climate was doing. We found the climate wasn’t doing anything it hadn’t done before … and there was a close link between humans and megafauna extinction.”

Bird said that the years large vertebrates disappeared coincides with the time humans arrived at the Sahul landmass now Papua New Guinea, the Australian mainland, and Tasmania.

“We are not saying people came and started killing everything. But when people get involved in population dynamics, through things like hunting, taking eggs and killing juveniles, it affects things over time,” Bird adds.

The research found evidence which prove that humans possibly consume animals at that time, but precise dates cannot be verified as of now. However, researchers like Bird still believes that the early human inhabitants vastly affect the environment of current Australia.

“The modern environment could be a big legacy of what happened around 50,000 years ago,” he said.