Earth still recovering from loss of giant sloths and others 12,000 years ago

Washington, August 12 : A new study has revealed that Earth is still recovering from the loss of giant sloths and armadillo-like glyptodonts and others massive beasts of the last ice age, 12,000 years ago.

A key method to spread certain nutrients over Amazon basin seems to have disappeared after the deaths of these big South American herbivores.

The massive beasts' disappearance may even account as to why phosphorus, which is a very important soil nutrient, is so scant in the Amazonia.

Oxford and Princeton universities' researchers used a new mathematical model to research how the dung and corpses of the large beasts spread laterally through the landscape and found that they used to play a large role in carrying nutrients around, Discovery News reported.

Christopher Doughty and his colleagues wrote said that for instance estimation is made that the extinction of the Amazonian megafauna lowered the lateral flux of the limiting nutrient phosphorus by more than 98 percent, with similar, but less extreme, reduction in all continents outside Africa, which resulted in loss in phosphorus in eastern Amazonia.

The researchers also noted that the decline may be continuing today and Amazon basin's soils' low phosphorus levels can be at least partially a relic of a past ecosystem.

They said that the extinction of Pleistocene megafauna resulted in huge and ongoing interruption to terrestrial biogeochemical cycling at continental scales.

They added that this suggests that major human impacts on global biogeochemical cycles go back well before dawn of the agriculture.

The study has been published in journal Nature Geoscience.

--ANI (Posted on 12-08-2013)

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