Closer to solving the mystery of the extinct Falklands canid warrah – MercoPress



Closer to solving the mystery of the extinct Falklands canid warrah

Thursday, October 28, 2021 – 09:27 UTC

The enigmatic wolf of the Falkland Islands, now extinct, had human visitors to the isolated archipelago until 1,070 years ago.

The team led by Kit Hamley also extended their research on warrah (Dusicyon australis), an extinct fox species. The warrah was the only native and terrestrial mammal to reside on the Falkland Islands when Europeans arrived. The ensuing hunt wiped out the species in 1856, making it the first extinct canine in history, Hamley says.

For years various scholars, including Charles Darwin, have debated the origins of warrah and how it got to the islands. Hamley speculates that humans may have introduced the species to the archipelago before European colonization. Many have previously rejected the theory based on a previous lack of scientific evidence, but Hamley’s team’s latest findings reopen that possibility, she says. The South American natives may have domesticated the warrah as they did with other foxes and canids, and brought them to the islands during their travels and short stays.

During a 2018 expedition to the islands, Hamely and his colleagues found three warrah bone samples at Spring Point Farm in West Falkland. Carbon dating and isotopic analysis revealed that the warrah whose bones were analyzed ?? had a marine diet consisting primarily of marine predators at the top ?? like sea lions and fur seals, a diet similar to that of native South American sailors in prehistoric times, researchers say. While these findings may reflect the coastal scavenger, they may illustrate the food their potential human counterparts obtained and ate, the researchers said.

?? This study has the potential to change the trajectory of future ecological research in the Falklands, ?? Hamley said. The introduction of a top predator, such as the warrah, may have had profound implications for the biodiversity of the islands, which are home to ground-nesting seabirds such as penguins, albatrosses and cormorants. It also changes the ever-compelling story of past human-canine relationships. We know that South American natives domesticated foxes, but this study helps show how potentially important these animals were to these communities dating back thousands of years.

Hamley conducted her research on three expeditions to the Falkland Islands in 2014, 2016, and 2018. During the 2016 trip, she participated in UMaine’s Follow a Researcher program, where scientists teach kindergarten students at the 12th get a preview of their work through live shipment updates, discussions and videos on Twitter.

The study led by Hamley contributes to the growing number of scientific inquiries into the ecological, anthropological and climatic history of the Falkland Islands carried out by researchers at UMaine. A 2020 study by UMaine found that the establishment of seabird colonies on the islands in response to a steep regional cooling period 5,000 years ago has altered its ecosystems.

As the world heats up, we hope that our growing understanding of the pre-colonial history of the Falklands will help policymakers balance the needs of wildlife and people, who depend on ecotourism, fishing and others. industries, ?? says Gill, an NSF CAREER researcher who was named Friend of the Planet 2020 by the National Center for Science Education. We are just beginning to reconstruct the role people played in the Falklands before European colonization. Due to centuries of colonialism on the continent, much of the oral knowledge about this period has been lost. Western science needs updating, and we hope that future work will be done in collaboration with today’s indigenous peoples in the region; their ancestors were the first experts here. ??

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