Record Details

Steadman, David W;Stafford, Jr, Thomas W;Donahue, Douglas J;Jull, A J T
Chronology of Holocene vertebrate extinction in the Galápagos Islands
Quaternary Research
Journal Article
Conolophus subcristatus
Eleven conventional and 15 AMS (accelerator mass spectrometer) radiocarbon dates establish chronologies for nine Holocene vertebrate fossil sites in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. A Holocene fossil record approaching 500,000 bones, more than 90% of which predate the arrival of people, shows that most or all cases of extinction or extirpation in the Galapagos occurred after first human contact in AD 1535. This is especially significant for two species of large rodents (Megaotyzomys spp.) that are known only from bones found in lava tubes. The highest rate of background (prehuman) extinction interpreted from the Galapagos fossil record is probably hundreds of times less than the modem rate of human-related extinction.