Not exactly novel news, but an interesting study nonetheless. There is even an application to human evolution and the extinction of the megafauna:
Ecologists have been puzzled for decades over the stability of predator-prey relations, said ecologist Craig Packer of the University of Minnesota, a co-author of the paper. “Traditional ecological models have erroneously predicted that predators would inevitably over-exploit their prey, leading to frequent population crashes. But most highly vulnerable prey species form herds, swarms, schools or flocks, and group living reduces predators’ efficiency to the point where co-existence is likely to be the rule rather than the exception.”
Packer said that while sociality in early humans and in their prey might have allowed long periods of co-existence, we eventually became such extraordinarily efficient hunters that herd formation could no longer protect our prey from mass extinction during the great die-offs in North America and Europe around 12,000 years ago.
If memory serves Meave Leakey has done some work on hominins moving into a carnivore niche…
Filed under: Biology