Scientists have found the first mammal that, like humans, grows its own food

(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers studied a field of gopher burrows and found that they don’t just harvest the roots of the longleaf pine that grows through their homes, they cultivate it.

Until now, there are disputes about what agriculture is and what is not. But the authors of the work point to several clear signs that gophers know what they are doing.

“Southeastern pocket gophers are the first non-human mammalian farmers,” says University of Florida biologist Francis Putz.

Signs of agriculture have previously been observed in ants, beetles, and termites, but not in other mammals.

During the work, the authors studied how roots grow among tunnels, in particular, those where ground squirrels live. It turned out that one root that sprouted in such a tunnel can close 20-60% of the calories that a ground squirrel consumes daily.

Once the roots enter the burrows, the animals stimulate their growth with their faeces and urine. It may not be the most complex form of farming, but the researchers suggest it is very similar to what humans do.

Animals also spend time protecting their crops. They tend to the burrows and create the conditions under which the roots can continue to grow.


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