The scientific community has long been puzzling over patches of dark and fertile soil called the ‘dark earth’ in the middle of the Amazon River basin in South America.
In a study published in Science Advances, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claim that local Indigenous communities created themon purpose. Farmers collected and processed organic matter to further improve the soil.
The scientists compared modern and ancient farming practices in the Amazon and concluded that early Amazonians fertilized the soil on purpose.
According to the experts, large settlements need a nutritional base, but the soil in the Amazon is extensively leached of nutrients, and naturally poor for growing most crops. Thus, the researchers argue that people played a role in creating dark earth, and intentionally modified the ancient environment to make it a better place for human populations.