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Likewise, these new findings also contradict the favored hypothesis of one of the study's authors, Ross MacPhee, who previously proposed that some kind of "hyperdisease" carried by humans (or animals that traveled with humans) quickly wiped out these animals.
Rapid climate shifts, hunting by humans, hyperdisease, asteroid impact, and other hypotheses have all been forwarded in recent years, with hungry, hungry humans and the development of a warmer, wetter global climate being the prime suspects.
This study is the first to demonstrate extinction in a mammal because of disease, supporting the hypothesis proposed a decade ago that "hyperdisease conditions" - unusually rapid mortality from which a species never recovers-can lead to extinction.
"This is not a case of humans over-hunting-I don't think anyone was that hungry," says Ross MacPhee, a Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History who proposed "hyperdisease conditions" as a mediator of extinction in 1997.