Earth is in the midst of a DUNG SHORTAGE: Loss of giant animal droppings is leaving planet’s soil infertile

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The full article by Richard Gray was originally written for Daily Mail

They were some of the biggest creatures to ever roam the Earth before disappearing more than ten thousand of years ago in a series of mass extinctions. But it seems the loss of giant animals like mammoths on the land and whales in the oceans has had far more serious implications than has previously been appreciated. The Earth is suffering from a shortage of dung following the extinction of the planet’s megafauna, according to a new study.

A team of scientists have found there has been a massive decline in the capacity of animals to recycle nutrients in the ecosystem through their droppings since the last Ice Age They estimate the capacity of land animals to spread nutrients has fallen to just eight per cent of what it was before the extinction of 150 species of ice age mammals.

These included giant sloths, mammoths and woolly rhino which all died out more than 12,000 years ago.
More recently, dramatic declines in the numbers of whales and other marine mammals in the oceans have seen the movement of nutrients drop to a quarter of their previous levels. Further major drops in the number of fish and seabirds has also led to dramatic declines in the amount of faeces being produced.

Dr Joe Roman, a biologist at the University of Vermont who was a co-author of the study, said: ‘This once was a world that had ten times more whales, twenty times more anadromous fish like salmon, double the number of seabirds, and ten times more large herbivores like giant sloths and mastodons and mammoths. ‘This broken global cycle may weaken ecosystem health, fisheries and agriculture.’

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Earth is in the midst of a DUNG SHORTAGE: Loss of giant animal droppings is leaving planet’s soil infertile