Cool Science
An Unwitting Farmer

May 5, 2016

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Photo Credit: ©WCS Peru

This is an agouti, a small rodent of the Amazonian forest that vaguely resembles a guinea pig.

As WCS's Loyola Escamilo writes in the New Worlder, its size belies its role in the proliferation of the Brazil nut tree, an important local staple.

The agouti eats Brazil nuts when they fall to the forest floor. It also buries them—essentially stashing the nuts in the pantry for later.

Before the agouti has a chance to return and enjoy its bounty, though, it may forget where the booty is buried, which leaves the nuts to sprout into new trees.

And Brazil nut trees are special, Escamilo writes, because they continue to benefit local people (through the collection of their nuts) with minimal impact on the forest.

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Photo Credit: ©Santiago Barco

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