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The African bush elephant, Earth's largest living land animal

The term megafauna [1] is mostly used of land animals. Some use it to mean over 44 kilograms (100 lb),[2][3] but for others it means over 100 kilograms (220 lb).[3][4] The term includes many species not usually thought of as large, such as white-tailed deer and the red kangaroo, and even humans.

The term is especially used for the Pleistocene megafauna – the large land animals of the last ice age, such as mammoths.[5] It is also used for the largest living wild land animals, especially elephants, giraffes, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, elk, condors, etc. Megafauna may be split into megaherbivores (e.g. elk), megacarnivores (e.g. lions), and more rarely, megaomnivores (e.g. bears).

References[change | edit source]

  1. Ancient Greek megas "large" + New Latin fauna "animal"
  2. Stuart, A.J. (1991-11). "Mammalian extinctions in the late Pleistocene of northern Eurasia and North America". Biological Reviews (Wiley) 66 (4): 453–562. doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.1991.tb01149.x.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Johnson, C.N. (2002-09-23). "Determinants of loss of mammal species during the late Quaternary 'Megafauna' extinctions: life history and ecology, but not body size". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 269 (1506): 2221–2227. doi:10.1098/rspb.2002.2130.
  4. Martin, P.S. et al (1999-06-30). "Prehistoric extinctions on islands and continents". Extinctions in near time: causes, contexts and consequences. Advances in Vertebrate Paleontology. 2. New York: Kluwer/Plenum. pp. 17–56. ISBN 978-0-306-46092-0. OCLC 41368299. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  5. Ice age animals. Illinois State Museum