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See the attached paper by Mieth and Bork, which Hunt and Lipo did not even cite in their book. On the basis of radiocarbon dates of AD 1200 for a few wood samples from a surface at Anakena taken to represent the first settlement on Easter Island, Hunt and Lipo concluded that settlement was not until around AD 1200.
They rejected all of the many older radiocarbon dates obtained by other authors.
Instead, palm trees continued to regenerate for centuries in the presence of rats, but eventually all palms, young and old, disappeared by AD 1600.
Easter’s forest consisted not only of the palm but also of at least two dozen other species of trees and other plants, all of which also became extinct on Easter although most of them are not known to suffer seed predation by rats and continue to exist in the presence of rats on other Polynesian islands.
These and other types of evidence that have built up our current understanding of Easter Island history are denied. Sometimes, a new study does result in previously unappreciated facts and interpretations, which eventually convince experts in the field.
But we learn to be suspicious when a highly selective book claims to present an “iron-clad case” for a “definitive solution” that has hitherto escaped all experts, and when the book’s dust-jacket quotes and favorable reviews are not by experts in the field.
I’ll summarize the reasons, for readers interested in these issues: .
The initial reason for positing a role of rats in Easter’s deforestation was that some preserved seeds of Easter’s extinct palm tree, found in caves, show marks of gnawing by rats; and that a study of Hawaii attributed deforestation there to rats.