Research by an international team, led by the University of Bristol, has shed new light on the fate of the ancient people of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). It had been proposed that vast forests of giant palm trees were cut down by the people of Rapa Nui, leaving them among other things without canoes. With no canoes, they could no longer fish, so they ate chickens, rats and agricultural crops. However, Rapa Nui is not a tropical paradise with fertile soils, so crop productivity decreased. This ‘ecocide’ hypothesis attributes societal collapse on Rapa Nui to human overexploitation of natural resources. Read more.