New Easter Island theory presented

Dec 06, 2005

A University of Hawaii anthropologist and colleagues are blaming rats and Dutch traders for the mysterious abandonment of Easter Island.

Nearly all Polynesians on the South Pacific island, who built hundreds of 10-ton stone statues, inexplicably vanished. Conjecture has included the natives deforested the island to transport the statues, triggering catastrophic erosion, USA Today reported. According to the theory, the remaining inhabitants then were decimated during a cannibalistic civil war in about 1650.

But anthropologist Terry Hunt blames the Polynesian rat for deforesting the 66-square-mile island's 16 million palm trees.

He and his colleagues told USA Today the disappearance of Easter Islanders probably was caused by visiting 18th-centruy Dutch traders, who took diseases and slave raiding to the island.

Easter Island is located more than 2,000 miles from the nearest population centers, making it one of the most isolated places on Earth.

Hunt presented his findings during an American Anthropological Association meeting last week in Washington.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Dutch scientists use smell to recreate JFK, Diana and other famous deaths

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Easter Island study enters new phase

Feb 17, 2011

A team of archaeologists studying the famous statues dotting the landscape of a tiny Pacific island have been awarded two thirds of a million pounds by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Outsiders blamed for Easter Island's historic demise

Aug 02, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- An archaeologist studying a remote Pacific island, world famous for its strange stone statues, says outsiders - and not its ancestors - should be blamed for its historic demise hundreds of ...

Recommended for you

All together now – three evolutionary perks of singing

Dec 24, 2014

We're enjoying the one time of year when protests of "I can't sing!" are laid aside and we sing carols with others. For some this is a once-a-year special event; the rest of the year is left to the professionals ...

Fish eye sheds light on color vision

Dec 23, 2014

A fish eye from a primitive time when Earth was but one single continent, has yielded evidence of color vision dating back at least 300 million years, researchers said Tuesday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

UncleDave
not rated yet May 18, 2009
"Easter Island is located more than 2,000 miles from the nearest population centers, making it one of the most isolated places on Earth."

And not at all close to any Dutch colony, making it one of the dumbest places from which to grab slaves. But I'm sure USA Today swallowed it hook line and sinker, since it has all the white guilt needed for a byline.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.