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January 21, 2020 - Wired Magazine

The Macabre Science of Animal Mass Die-Offs

The Macabre Science of Animal Mass Die-Offs
Feral PigsFile Photo / © Photabulous!

Researchers are replicating “mass mortality events” with pig carcasses. The ecological consequences could hint at what's happening in Australia right now.

Unfolding right now across swaths of Australia is an ecological catastrophe, as massive, turbo-charged fires reduce whole landscapes to nothingness. Tens of thousands of koalas had no way of escaping. Livestock lie dead in fields. As a field, the experimental study of MMEs is quite new. Sure, researchers can scrutinize a mass die-off in the wild, for instance when a bacterial outbreak killed 200,000 saiga antelopes in central Kazakhstan in 2015. One team of researchers has found a clever workaround to the problem, using a subject no one will miss: feral pigs.

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