According to a recent study, early humans burnt down Madagascar forests before they started the Industrial Revolution. Throughout the ages, humanity has permanently changed most of the environment. The massive loss of forestland in Madagascar almost 1, 000 years ago indicates human’s tendency to tamper with nature.
A group of researchers from MIT and UMass Amherst conducted a study to find out what was the reason behind the massive loss of forestland. For many years it was believed a natural disaster led to such widespread destruction. Nonetheless, experts proved nature had nothing to do with the massive deforestation. It was the hand of man that was responsible for burning down Madagascar forests.
In order to carry out their tests, experts studied the stalagmites found inside ancient caves in the Madagascar area. Stalagmites are known as cone-shaped pieces of rock which emerge from the ground. Generally, such rock structures appear when water seeps from underground, finding its way to the surface. After the stalagmite’s chemical analysis, the scientists were able to find changes in calcium carbon levels.
The results pointed out carbon ratio of trees changed to grasslands in only 1, 000 years. This means experts were only able to find the ratio of plains and grassland acres. Such findings led to complex debates on global warming. Researchers wondered whether global warming was behind the massive loss of Madagascar forests.
Ultimately, they decided such events couldn’t have been caused by global warming. After further investigation of oxygen isotopes, scientists discovered their level wasn’t changed in that period. Moreover, according to the experts the events were too sudden to be related to to climate change or any natural phenomena. This led to the idea that human interventions may have caused the massive deforestation.
They hypothesized early humans burnt down Madagascar forests. According to historical data, Madagascar’s colonies appeared almost 3, 000 years ago. In the firs 2, 000 years, much of the tribes’ societies obtained their food by foraging. This means most of the humans were hunter-gatherers, collecting wild plants and hunting wild animals.
However, after a period early human started to feed on cattle. When their herds extended, they had to find more land. Such a situation made them to replace forests with meadows or grasslands. Experts claim early settlers used savage methods of deforestation, such as slashing and burning.
The newly found evidence is a very important step for anthropologists as they can move on and understand better the evolution of Madagascar tribes. Also, climate experts were given significant proof on the period when humans started to alter the environment.
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