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The possible causes of the Australian megafauna extinctions at the end of the Pleistocene fall into two basic categories human impact and climatic change Many models based on one or both of these are used to try to explain the extinction The timing of the event is important in determining what is influential in the extinctions This paper will consider the timing of relevant climate and human events and then evaluate five explanations for the Pleistocene extinctions The explanations are disease direct overkill blitzkrieg human fire use climatic catastrophe and the ecophysical model The paper will show that none of them are totally adequate that more data needs to be gathered and that different circumstances apply in different regions Timing is a critical issue in the Pleistocene extinctions The timings of human arrival in Australia climatic events and the Pleistocene extinctions are all important in determining the causes of the extinctions Furby et al 1993204 The date of human arrival in Australia is important in evaluating the influence of humans in the Pleistocene megafauna extinctions The prevailing date is around 40 000 BP however Hiscock claims a date from artefacts at Malakunanja II in excess of 50 000 BP Hiscock 1990122 The arrival of humans in Australia is significant regarding the coexistence of humans and Pleistocene fauna Coexistence of up to 10 000 years is demonstrated at many sites in South East Australia OConnell 199056 Human arrival is also relevant to the use and effect of fire on the environment It is assumed that human fire use patterns are almost unchanged since humans occupied Australia until English colonisation Clark 1983 The Pleistocene was a period of fluctuating conditions from cold and dry to moist and temperate A glacial period is recognised at 18 000 BP 25 000-15 000 BP producing low sea levels and extreme aridity in Australia Hope 198352 Information about Australian Pleistocene conditions is restricted to about 40 000
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