Although the Amazon forest seems to be an unknown territory, a new study questions the origin of the region.

A new study presents the idea according to which the Amazon forest might be the result of one of the oldest agriculture experiments. People live in the region for more than 10,000 years and, over time, they even managed to establish advanced civilizations, thus also changing the scenery.

Carolina Levis, researcher at the Wageningen University worked alongside a team of ecologists and archeologists to conduct a study that was recently published in Science magazine. They worked with data from the Amazon Tree Diversity Network, discovering 85 domesticated tree species out of a total of 4962. The 85 domesticated species had a huge influence on the rest of the forest.

“We discovered that 20 of these 85 species are hyper dominant, being seen fives times more often than we expected” the study says. Overall, approximately 20% of the Amazon forest species are the result of ancient domestication, and in the areas where important civilizations were established, the percentage goes up to 30%.

People from 8000 years ago preferred the rubber tree, cacao, palm trees and others. These trees, but also others, were the main resource for the pre-Colombian societies.

Researchers also discovered that domesticated plants are more frequent in areas that were inhabited in the past and it is possible for these species to thrive thanks to human presence. So, the density of domesticated trees might be the result of agriculture that managed to adapt to an environment transformed by people.


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