How extinction of five-tonne sloths slows up growth along the Amazon

Glyptodon

Glyptodon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We don’t seem to learn the lesson of meddling with the balance of nature …….

Not Quite Gone

Five-tonne sloth and glyptodon,
going, going, going, gone.

Just twelve-thousand years ago
mega-fauna were stars of the show.

They foraged through the Amazon
for vegetation they lived on.

And in return they fertilised,
their crap was mineral-rich inside.

They brought balance and harmony
and verdant growth for the world to see.

Then humans pushed into their space
and they fell victim to the human race.

Slow plodders they were easy prey
and very soon they’d had their day.

Five-tonne sloth and glyptodon,
going, going, going, gone.

And with these mega-stars’ demise
the balance changed before our eyes.

The Amazon showed stunted growth
thanks to the death of the five-tonne sloth.

Basin of the Amazon,
going, going, not quite gone.

 

11th August 2013 – headline from the Independent

Notes:  “How extinction of five-tonne sloths slows up growth along the Amazon.”  Vast regions of the Amazon are growing more slowly than they were several thousand years ago because they lack the fertilising effect provided by South America’s distinctive “mega-fauna” – the very large mammals that went extinct soon after the arrival of humans.  A study of how soil nutrients are distributed within the Amazon basin has revealed there is a dearth of vital minerals such as phosphorus because large mammals no longer roam the region to fertilise the soil with their dung.  Scientists believe that the extinction of large herbivores, such as five-tonne ground sloths and armadillo-like glyptodonts the size of small cars, led to a serious imbalance of soil minerals which is still having an impact today.

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