Amazon forest ‘shaped by

pre-Columbian indigenous peoples’


BRASILIA (SD): Indigenous peoples who inhabited the Amazon before the arrival of European colonisers planted a vast number of trees, a new study argues. They played an important role in the current composition of the forest, says the study. Researchers found that species used for food or building materials were far more common near ancient settlements. “So the Amazon is not nearly as untouched as it may seem,” said Dr Hans ter Steege in the Netherlands. Eighty-five species that produced Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, acai or rubber were also five times more likely to be dominant in mature forest than non-domesticated species. The scientists reached their conclusions by comparing data on tree composition from more than 1,000 locations in the Amazon with a map of archaeological sites. In an earlier study, published in 2013, a team led by Dr ter Steege, from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, concluded that a limited number of trees was dominant in the Amazon. Half of the trees in the forest belong to just 227 species, according to their research. An estimated eight to 10 million people lived in the Amazon region before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, which marked the beginning of European colonisation.

Millions of indigenous people died either in clashes with the Europeans or infected by infectious diseases for which their bodies had no defence, such as smallpox.

But the researches said the ancient peoples of the Amazon left their mark in the forest.

“Past civilizations have had a great role in changing, both consciously and unconsciously, the vegetation in the surroundings of their settlements and along paths that they used to travel,” said study researcher Carolina Levis, from Brazil’s National Institute for Amazonian Research and the Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands.

The research was published in the American journal, Science.



Air India flies into record books

with flight by all-women crew


NEW DELHI (HT): In a quest to set a new world record, Air India has operated a flight around the world with an all-women crew ahead of International Women’s Day. The flight which departed from here on February 27 for San Francisco, returned at the Indira Gandhi International airport today after flying across the globe.

The aircraft, a Boeing 777-200LR, flew over the Pacific last week on its journey to San Francisco, while the return flight flew over the Atlantic, encircling the globe, Air India said today. An Air India spokesperson said the airline has already applied for a Guinness World Record and Limca Book of Records for this feat. Air India is the first Indian carrier to operate on the Pacific route which has reduced the flying time by up to three hours. Apart from the cockpit and cabin crew, check-in and ground handling staff, and engineers who certified the aircraft were all women, Air India said. It added that the Air Traffic Controllers who cleared the departure and arrival of the aircraft were also women.

As part of the celebrations on International Women’s Day which is observed on March 8 every year, the flag carrier has also decided to operate similar flights on its domestic and other international routes.



Dying author writes dating profile for husband

New York (Monitoring desk): An author dying of ovarian cancer has written a dating profile of her husband so he can find “another love story”. Amy Krouse Rosenthal lists his best qualities and says she hopes “the right person reads this [and] finds Jason”. “I have never been on Tinder, Bumble or eHarmony,” she writes in the New York Times. “But I’m going to create a general profile for Jason right here, based on my experience of co-existing in the same house with him for, like, 9,490 days.” Amy is known for writing books for children, as well as memoirs about her own family and life. She and Jason have been together for almost three decades and have grown-up children. In her most recent memoir, written before her cancer diagnosis, Amy said she wanted a reader to suggest a design so she and they could get matching tattoos.

“In September, Paulette [the reader] drove down to meet me at a Chicago tattoo parlour,” she writes in her essay.

“She got hers (her very first) on her left wrist. I got mine on the underside of my left forearm, in my daughter’s handwriting.

“This was my second tattoo; the first is a small, lowercase ‘j’ that has been on my ankle for 25 years. You can probably guess what it stands for.

“Jason has one too, but with more letters: ‘AKR.’”

Towards the end of her essay, called You May Want to Marry My Husband, Amy writes: “I am wrapping this up on Valentine’s Day, and the most genuine, non-vase-oriented gift I can hope for is that the right person reads this, finds Jason, and another love story begins.

“I’ll leave this intentional empty space below as a way of giving you two the fresh start you deserve.”

There then follows a blank white space.

She ends: “With all my love, Amy.”