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Old 09-14-1999, 12:58 AM
pluto pluto is offline
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Suburban Seattle
Posts: 2,746
Since I have already been on a New Zealand thread this morning ...

Prior to the introduction of pigs, rats, cats, dogs, etc. by humans (starting about A.D. 1000) the birds of New Zealand (the dominant fauna) had no natural enemies, at least in the sense of predators. The only mammals on the islands were bats and pinnipeds. None of the birds were carnivorous, so although they competed with each other for ecological niches they didn't eat each other.

Two things resulted from this -- 1) a lot of flightless bird species developed, and 2) the native fauna were easy picking for the introduced predators. IIRC, in the Chatham Islands (near NZ) the lighthouse keeper's cat was personally responsible for the extinction of a number of species of small birds.


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"non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem"
-- William of Ockham