An incredible new finding in the Amazon rainforest reveals something incredible about our past, and it could yield many more future discoveries.
An incredible new discovery by scientists deep in the rainforests of the Amazon suggests that by studying plants in the region, we can learn a lot about humankind. In fact, humans totally shaped the makeup of the entire rainforest due to their presence over thousands of years.
The remarkable findings were published in the journal Science, and they show just how huge of an effect humans have on their surrounding environment, even before the industrial age. And it also offers scientists a new way to look for human settlements that haven’t been discovery, according to a Field Museum statement.
Despite our view of the Amazon has untouched, pristine wilderness, this is not the case. But before the arrival of Europeans, indigenous people were already domesticating species for their own uses, Scientists used 1,170 forest plots from the Amazon Tree Diversity Network and more than 180 researchers to track the tree diversity in the Amazon Basin, and found that certain plant species were thriving in areas where they wouldn’t be expected to have as much of a presence, showing that plant life is not just an ecological resource but also part of a cultural heritage.
“Some of the tree species that are abundant in Amazonian forests today, like cacao, açaí, and Brazil nut, are probably common because they were planted by people who lived there long before the arrival of European colonists,” says Nigel Pitman, the Mellon Senior Conservation Ecologist at Chicago’s Field Museum and a co-author of the study.