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The Evolution Would Take 50 Million Years To Restore New Zealand’s Unique Bird Base

About 700 years ago, this soundscape was even more impressive. But since humans settled in New Zealand, it has severely decimated the birdlife there. It would take 50 million years for it to regenerate, researchers report in the journal “Current Biology”. By comparison, Homo sapiens has only been around for about 250,000 years.

The researchers, led by Luis Valente of the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, examined fossils and genetic data of extinct and living birds from New Zealand. Using the data, they simulated in the computer how long it would take for the islands to regain lost diversity in the course of evolution. “If species that are currently classified as potentially endangered also die out, another 10 million years would be needed,” reports spiegel.

More than 70 bird species disappeared, 30 percent considered endangered

More than 70 bird species have disappeared since humans settled in New Zealand. Although efforts are being stepped up today to protect New Zealand’s birds, 30 percent of the species still in existence are considered endangered, according to the study.

Among them is, for example, the large night parrot Kakapo. The bird would have been almost extinct a few years ago because rats, martens, ferrets, cats and other human-introduced animals threatened it. Scientists have been trying to stabilize the population ever since. Often poison baits are also designed for this purpose, which is supposed to put an end to the introduced predators.

Originally there were no mammals in New Zealand – apart from bats. The parrots are therefore not prepared to flee or defend themselves. They are flight-capable, large, rather naive in their behavior and were thus easy prey for the introduced robbers.

Hunting and growing agriculture have also added to the parrots, the researchers write. Today, Kakapos live exclusively on four islands off the coast of New Zealand, where they have no natural enemies. (read more about this here).Hunting and growing agriculture have also added to the parrots, the researchers write.

Today, Kakapos live exclusively on four islands off the coast of New Zealand, where they have no natural enemies. Hunting and growing agriculture have also added to the parrots, the researchers write. Today, Kakapos live exclusively on four islands off the coast of New Zealand, where they have no natural enemies.

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