The diversity of large mammals if humans never existed. (Soren Faurby)
If humans never existed, lions, saber–tooth tigers, 330–pound beavers and house-sized armadillos would be walking around Texas right now. A new study from researchers at Aarhus University demonstrates what the world would look like for mammals if the most destructive super predator of them all — Homo sapiens — had never been around. The study was born out of the team’s previous research, which found that a lot of mammal species that went extinct during the last Ice Age was mostly due to the spread of humans rather than climate change.
“Last year we published another study, which along other studies, clearly suggested that humans were a massive driver in the large extinction which occurred near the end of the last ice age,” lead study author and postdoctoral fellow in bioscience Soren Faurby told Foxnews.com. “During this work we started talking about just how big the effects of humans was and how the world would have been different if humans had not influenced the distribution of any species within the last 130,000 years and I started estimating this by generating attempts of so–called present-natural distributions of all mammalian species, meaning where they potentially could have been today.”
According to the study, rhinos and elephants would thrive alongside bears and Eurasian elk in Europe, while American lions and camels (among other things) would be prowling around North America.
“Texas and Mexico would likely naturally have some of the highest diversity,” Faurby suggested. “Among the extinct North American species [that would be alive today] are Short–faced bears, American lions, saber–tooth cats, Dire wolfs, giant ground sloths, mastodons, mammoths, camels, giant beavers (330 pounds or so), tapirs, and glyptodonts (house sizes armadillo relatives).”