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D. Using Fossil Records and Technology to Understand Cause of Mass Extinctions

Narrator: This is Science Today. For a century, there's been debate which heated up in the 1960s about whether people caused much of the large animals to go extinct at the end of the Pleistocene era. Tony Barnosky, a professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, says using the fossil records, there are many different ways one can approach finding out the cause.

Barnosky: You can come at it from looking at the biology of the species involved, looking at the chronology of extinction versus the chronology of climate change versus the chronology of human arrival. You can come at it from more of an archeological perspective, in which you're trying to figure out how the people were using the animals or if they were.

Narrator: And thanks to sophisticated technology, researchers can also use computer simulation modeling.

Barnosky: Technology does play a great part and now we can actually do things that we couldn't do forty years ago. We have much better paleoclimate models now and paleoclimate data and the simulation studies can be much more sophisticated.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.