9 Jan 2024

Human-driven extinctions: 'The world is emptier than we realise'

From Summer Times, 9:45 am on 9 January 2024

We all know the story of human-driven extinction in Aotearoa - the moa, perhaps the most famous, and the huia, with the last confirmed sighting in 1907, the most recent.

But what of bird species around the world that have disappeared without our knowledge, where no fossils, or museum artefacts remain?

These are known by scientists as 'dark extinctions' and a recent study, based on New Zealand's fossil record, estimates hundreds of birds have disappeared without a trace.

Lead study author, Dr Rob Cooke, an ecological modeller at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology says, 'The world is emptier than we realise'.

Two taxidermized huia up for auction

Two taxidermized huia up for auction Photo: supplied