Humans living in Amazon 10,000 years ago cultivated plants, study finds
April 9, 2020 at 4:02 AM - Views: 8 #300171
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Findings from Bolivia show plants were domesticated in region shortly after last ice age
Wed 8 Apr 2020 11.00 EDT
The Amazon basin was a hotspot for the early cultivation of plants, with inhabitants having munched on squash and cassava more than 10,000 years ago, researchers have revealed.
The team say the new findings from Bolivia offer direct evidence such plants were grown in south-west Amazonia, meaning the region has a claim to join the Middle East, China, south-west Mexico and north-west South America as locations where wild plants were domesticated shortly after the last ice age. The team say the discovery chimes with other clues.
“[Previous work] identified south-west Amazonia as a potential centre of domestication because in this area they found a lot of wild relatives of domesticated plants,” said Dr Umberto Lombardo of the University of Bern, a co-author of the research.
Writing in the journal Nature, Lombardo and colleagues reveal how they made their discovery after investigating “forest islands” – raised, wooded areas, about 70 meters in diameter – within savanna in Llanos de Moxos, Bolivia.
The Llanos de Moxos, also known as the Beni savanna or the Moxos plains, is a tropical savanna ecoregion of northern Bolivia.
The Llanos de Moxos covers an area of 126,100 square kilometers (48,700 sq mi) in the lowlands of northern Bolivia, with small portions in neighboring Brazil and Peru. Most of the Llanos de Moxos lies within the departments of El Beni, Cochabamba, La Paz, Pando, and Santa Cruz. The Llanos de Moxos occupies the southwestern corner of the Amazon basin, and the region is crossed by numerous rivers that drain the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains. The low relief of the savannas, coupled with wet season rains and snowmelt from the Andes, cause up to half the land to flood seasonally.
The Llanos de Moxos is surrounded by tropical moist forests; the Southwestern Amazonian moist forests to the north, west, and south, and the Madeira-Tapajós moist forests to the east.
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The Llanos de Moxos is home to the blue-throated macaw (Ara glaucogularis), which is critically endangered.
Main article: Llanos de Moxos (archaeology)
The Llanos de Moxos was the setting for many complex pre-Columbian societies, many of which constructed agricultural earthworks such as raised fields, causeways, canals and mounds. These earthworks were built and used from about 1100 BC until about AD 1450, so far as can be told from archeological remains which do not preserve well in the tropics. The earthworks exceed the Giza pyramids in size and arouse similar speculation as to the means by which they were constructed. Prehispanic peoples made decorated pottery, wove cotton cloth, and in some places buried their dead in large urns.
April 9, 2020 at 8:20 AM #300380
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