Media Release

Newsroom Releases 2013 August Debate rages over megafauna

05/08/2013
Debate rages over megafauna
Controversy surrounds the causes of the extinction of giant kangaroos, and enormous wombat-like creatures weighing as much as the family sedan, according to an archaeologist speaking at James Cook University in Cairns this week.

Controversy surrounds the causes of the extinction of giant kangaroos, and enormous wombat-like creatures weighing as much as the family sedan, according to an archaeologist speaking at James Cook University in Cairns this week.

Senior Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales, Judith Field, will give a free public lecture at JCU’s Cairns campus this Thursday (August 8) on whether the extinction of Australia’s megafauna was caused by climate change or humans.

“Australia once hosted a suite of giant animals including the 3.5 tonne Diprotodon, a three-metre kangaroo called the Procoptodon, a large terrestrial crocodile, as well as giant flightless birds and goannas the size of komodo dragons,” Dr Field said.

“The mystery surrounding their decline and disappearance has been played out in a vigorous and often polarised debate about who or what caused the extinction.

“In this talk I will review some of the evidence and the models that have been invoked to account for the extinction process.

“I will also present some of the data we have compiled for the Cuddie Springs site in north-western New South Wales, the only site on continental Australia where bones of megafauna and an archaeological record overlap.”

Dr Field has directed excavations at the Pleistocene archaeological site of Cuddie Springs since 1991. She has also led survey and excavation work at Riversleigh in north-west Queensland and investigated the antiquity of rainforest occupation in tropical Australia.

Her presentation is the latest in James Cook University’s annual series of public lectures in science and engineering.

The lecture will be held in the Crowther Theatre at James Cook University in Smithfield on Thursday, August 8.

Refreshments will be served from 5.30pm and the lecture will begin at 6pm.

Issued August 5, 2013

Media enquiries: E. linden.woodward@jcu.edu.au T. 07 4042 1007