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Science Articles & Cool Facts

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Fact: The Lost Inhabitants of Easter Island

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Easter Island which is also known as Rapa Nui is located between Chile and Tahiti. Not only is it one of the most isolated islands in the world but it represents an example of mass extinction and deforestation not found anywhere else in the world.

The Easter Islanders are famous for their gigantic monoliths called Moai. These were constructed using indigenous island rock and are placed all over the island some facing the sea but the majority facing inland, suggesting some religious significance. Very little is known about the social dynamics of the people of Rapa Nui but in a very short period of time they destroyed themselves and the ecosystem they lived in.

The disappearance was inferred as abrupt and violent with the population unable to support themselves. No one knows the exact reason for their extinction but scientists beleive the mass deforestation which led to the eradication of every single tree species on the island would have been a key factor in this disappearance. 

The loss of trees would have had a huge impact on soil erosion, birds would have lost their nesting grounds and with very little rainfall the soil would have become more and more hostile to the growth of plants and crops. With no wood the local population would have struggled to build boats for fishing and this caused a change in their diet. Chickens and rats became a more common part of their food stock and some hint at even cannabalism due to the prescence of human remains at cooking sites.

No one will ever know the real reason for the sudden demise of this civilisation but from a scientific perspective it just demonstrates the severe consequences that tampering with a lands natural ecosystem can cause.

One Comment

  • User Points: Not A Member
    Posted on 9th March 2011

    I think a comet or meteorite must have hit the islands

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