Prehistoric Human Feces Biomarkers Help Track Ancient Climate Change

Prehistoric Human Feces Biomarkers Help Track Ancient Climate Change

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The race is on to blame everything related to ecological change on human footprints – even the past can be re-framed as anthropocenic climate change and University of Massachusetts Amherst geoscientists have shown how to do just that, by using a biomarker from human feces in a completely new way to establish the first human presence, the arrival of grazing animals and human population dynamics in a landscape.

Paleoclimatologists have long used markers in lakebed sediments, such as charcoal from humans’ fires and pollen from cultivated plants, as a natural archive of environmental changes to estimate when humans first began having an impact. But these indirect indicators must be used with care when reconstructing the history of a place because it’s not always clear that they indicate human activity in the same area.

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