Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind: serialised in quotes V. How humans became ecological serial killers

The journey of the first humans to Australia is one of the most important events in history, at least as important as Columbus’ journey to America or the Apollo 11 expedition to the moon. It was the first time any human had managed to leave the Afro-Asian ecological system—indeed, the first time any large mammal had managed to cross from Afro-Asia to Australia. Of even greater importance was what the human pioneers did in this new world. The moment the first hunter-gatherers set foot on an Australian beach was the moment that Homo sapiens climbed to the top rung in the food chain on a particular landmass and thereafter became the deadliest species in the annals of pant Earth.

The settlers of Australia, or more accurately the conquerors, didn’t just adapt, they transformed the Australian ecosystem beyond recognition.

Of the 24 Australian animal species weighing 50kg or more, 23 became extinct.

Foods systems throughout the entire Australian ecosystem were broken and rearranged.

The historical record makes Homo sapiens look like an ecological seral killer.

The first wave of Sapiens colonisation was one of the biggest and swiftest ecological disasters to befall the animal kingdom.

We have the dubious distinction of being the deadliest species in the annals of biology.


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