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August 12 2013

Ecosystems still feel the pain of ancient extinctions


It's not just humans that still feel the effects of a trauma many years later: ecosystems do too. Thousands of years after human hunters wiped out big land animals like giant ground sloths, the ecosystems they lived in are still feeling the effects.

Many ecosystems rely on big animals to supply them with nutrients, mostly from dung. "If you remove the big animals from an ecosystem, you pretty much stop nutrients moving," says Chris Doughty of the University of Oxford.

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