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The Amazon Rainforest: Was it ‘Man Made’ by Our Ancestors?

Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Archaeology, Earth & Space, Nature, Sci-Tech, Science with 1 Comment

By Richard Gray | Daily Mail

amazon conservation team ben lee

  • Scientists estimate 8-50 million people lived in Amazon basin at its peak
  • They say 83 species of plant were domesticated and farmed in the area
  • Human farming and waste also led to fertile black soil in many parts
  • Scientists say the rich black soils have altered how the forest has grown

It is often held aloft by environmental campaign groups as an example of one of the last remaining regions of unspoiled habitat left in the world.

But instead of being a pristine rainforest untouched by human hands, the Amazon appears to have been profoundly shaped by mankind.

An international team of researchers have published evidence that suggests the Amazon was once home to millions of people who lived and farmed in the area now covered by trees.

The scientists claim the Amazon basin was a major centre of crop domestication that saw at least 83 native species being cultivated to some degree.


A genetic study is threatening to transform theories about who the first people to inhabit the Amazon really were.

Scientists have found three native tribes living in modern-day Brazil are in fact more closely related to Aborigines in Australia than they are to any other living population.

It suggest that the ancestors of Aborigines from Australasia may have migrated to South America thousands of years ago.

The findings also contradict the common belief that all native peoples in North and South America are descended from one group, known as the First Americans, who migrated across a land bridge over the Bering Strait around 15,000 years ago.

It is not known how the Aborigine ancestors made their way to Brazil, but it is possible they may have come by see or crossed ice to get there.

They point to patches of dark, fertile earth which resulted from agricultural techniques and waste as further evidence of the extent of the settlement.

They believe people may have been widespread across the region from around 3,000BC.

They estimate that by 1492 at least eight million and as many as 50 million people lived off the land around the Amazon.

Their research tallies with the recent discoveries of ancient earthworks on land that has been cleared of trees and historic accounts from the first Europeans to arrive in South America.

They told of sprawling towns that stretched for miles, but these have often been dismissed as inaccurate.

Dr Charles Clement, a historical ecologist at the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Manaus, Brazil, who led the work, said: ‘Plant domestication occurs in domesticated landscapes, including highly modified Amazonian dark earths associated with large settled populations and that may cover greater than 0.1 per cent of the region.

‘Populations and food production expanded rapidly within land management systems in the mid-Holocene, and complex societies expanded in resource-rich areas creating domesticated landscapes with profound impacts on local and regional ecology.

The researchers point to evidence of extensive ancient agriculture and crop domestication across the Amazon basin that they say has been going on since around 3,000BC. The map above shows sites where evidence for ancient farming have been found in areas now covered by the famous rain forest.

‘Food production projections support estimates of at least eight million people in 1492.

‘By this time, highly diverse regional systems had developed across Amazonia where subsistence resources were created with plant and landscape domestication, including earthworks.'

Their findings, which are published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggest humans have been altering the landscape in the Amazon for thousands of years.

While much of the area has now returned to wilderness, the resulting forest has been shaped by human activities.

The rich black soil, known as terra preta, that provides much of the fertility and allows such rich growth in the Amazon, for example, appears to have been created by human activity.

It is thought to cover more than 154,000 square kilometres (59,400 square miles), about three per cent of the 5.5 million square kilometres (2.1 million square miles) covered by the rain forest.

[Read more here]

Originally entitled: “Is the Amazon rainforest MAN-MADE? At least 8 MILLION humans may have lived and farmed the basin at its peak, study claims”

Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, He can also be reached at romayasoundhealth

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  1.' Joe Sto says:

    Dude, totally. 🙂

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