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The Discovery Files - "Flames of Extinction"

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The Discovery Files - "Flames of Extinction"

Credit: NSF/Clear Channel Communications/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Burning questions and the down under diet.

I'm Bob Karson with "The Discovery Files" -- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

The interior of ancient Australia -- 50,000 years ago. A prehistoric land bridge connects the continent with Southeast Asia...bringing colonization. With colonization comes fire.

SOUND: (raging fire)

It is now thought that these early humans so extensively used fire for hunting, land-clearing and signaling, that it rendered 85% of the animal population extinct.

A research team from CU, Boulder now believes that what killed off so many of Australia's mammals, reptiles and birds was man's obsession with fire that choked off the habitat.

SOUND: (birds)

The team studied the long term diets of two species of flightless birds that mysteriously switched from eating lush tasty greens to desert scrub. Animals who were picky eaters and couldn't adapt, were starved to the point of extinction...and it was early humans who fanned the flames.

"The Discovery Files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally-sponsored research -- brought to you by you! Get the full story at

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