From Denver, at a meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Its varied diet may have permitted the California condor, one of today's largest and rarest birds, to survive the mass extinctions at the end of the last ice age, according to a new study. Many species of large land mammals died off about 12,000 years ago. Some scientists blame those extinctions on changes in climate, hunting by humans, virulent diseases, or a combination of those factors. Whatever the cause of the die-offs, they removed a considerable source of carcasses for scavengers. As a result, many scavengers suffered population crashes as well, says Kena Fox-Dobbs of the University of California, Santa Cruz.