Amazon

Fish poop boosts distant forests

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 24, 2011   View Article

The Amazon’s big fish poop seeds far from where they eat fruit, helping to maintain the genetic diversity of the tropical forest, according to new research that shines light on a little-studied mechanism of seed dispersal.

The seed excretions occur during the six- to eight-month-long flood season, when the characid fish Colossoma macropomum swim from lakes and rivers into vast floodplains where they gobble up fruit dropped by trees and shrubs.

“Lost” Amazon Complex Found; Shapes Seen by Satellite

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 4, 2010   View Article

Hundreds of circles, squares, and other geometric shapes once hidden by forest hint at a previously unknown ancient society that flourished in the Amazon, a new study says.

Satellite images of the upper Amazon Basin taken since 1999 have revealed more than 200 geometric earthworks spanning a distance greater than 155 miles (250 kilometers).

Superdirt Made Lost Amazon Cities Possible?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 19, 2008   View Article

Centuries-old European explorers’ tales of lost cities in the Amazon have long been dismissed by scholars, in part because the region is too infertile to feed a sprawling civilization.

But new discoveries support the idea of an ancient Amazonian urban network—and ingeniously engineered soil may have made it all possible.

Ancient Amazon Cities Found; Were Vast Urban Network

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 28, 2008   View Article

Dozens of ancient, densely packed, towns, villages, and hamlets arranged in an organized pattern have been mapped in the Brazilian Amazon, anthropologists announced today.

The finding suggests that vast swathes of “pristine” rain forest may actually have been sophisticated urban landscapes prior to the arrival of European colonists.

Amazon Deforestation Drops Significantly, Government Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 14, 2007   View Article

The pace of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell by 25 percent in a recent 12-month period, according to recently released government figures.

Even so, some conservation groups claim the decrease is due to lower demand for crops that grow on cleared forest land, and not successful environmental policies.

Ants Use Acid to Make “Gardens” in Amazon, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 20, 2006   View Article

Ants in the Amazon rain forest labor to keep their territory free of all plants except for one tree species, according to a new study. Scientists call these cultivated spaces devil’s gardens, after the local legends that hold they’re home to evil spirits. Some of the gardens are at least 800 years old.

Wonder Drugs Waiting in the Weeds?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 3, 2005   View Article

It’s often said that plants hidden in the tangle of the Amazonian rain forest may harbor an undiscovered cancer cure. John Richard Stepp thinks the same can be said for the world’s weeds.

Stepp is an enthobiologist, a scientist who blends anthropology and biology to study plant use by different cultures.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach