- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Dung fungus reveal that humans, not climate change, killed Australia’s giant beasts
In Australia, an ancient murder mystery is coming to a riveting conclusion, thanks to an unusual clue – not a fingerprint, or a bloody weapon, but fungal spores preserved in fossilised dung. The spores belong to Sporormiella, a fungus that only grows in mammal and bird droppings. Large plant-eaters provide it with vast banquets. In turn, the fungus reveals how many big vegetarians were living in the neighbourhood.
Scientists have used these spores to study the deaths of the giant animals that once grazed North America – “megafauna” such as mammoths, woolly rhinos, and more. Now, it’s Australia’s turn. By using Sporormiella records, along with other buried clues, Susan Rule from the Australian National University has found strong evidence that acquits