Human influence on tropics predates Anthropocene, holds clues to current crisis

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Ostrich-shaped but elephant-sized, a species known as the elephant bird once roamed Madagascar’s tropical forests. But close to a thousand years ago, these giant birds slipped into extinction. Now all that remains of elephant birds are their fossilized skeletons and shards of their hard-shelled eggs. While experts are still debating the exact reason for their disappearance, humans most likely played a role. The disappearance of elephant birds in Madagascar is just one example of how humans modified the composition of tropical forests well before the advent of the so-called Anthropocene, the pr…

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