Les gaufres à poche creusent des tunnels de dizaines de mètres de long pour chercher des racines, produisant des monticules de sol sablonneux au fur et à mesure qu'ils creusent. © Veronica Selden, Jack Putz

They can be identified by mounds of sandy soil criss-crossing a field: gophers, small rodents, cultivate the earth beneath our feet, constantly remodeling it. These rodents turn out to be the only mammals besides humans that engage in farming!

We’re not the only ones mammals to practice agriculture. A study in the journal just showed that Current Biology, which focused on small rodents: pocket waffles. They populate certain fields in North America where they spend their lives underground galleries dug by them, which can exceed a length of 100 meters. Above all, however, they only feed on roots that grow in these tunnels and which they then cultivate. “They provide this perfect environment for the roots to grow and fertilize them with their waste,” said Veronica Selden, first author of the study and recent University of Florida zoology graduate student.

To demonstrate these growing practices, the two lead authors spent months observing these small rodents and trying to keep them out of their tunnels to measure the roots growing there. But in vain! They always slipped through no matter what roadblocks were imposed. The two researchers then undertook to insert into the structure of the globe…” data-image=”https://cdn.futura-sciences.com/buildsv6/images/midioriginal/8/4/f/84ff7edce5_123534_terre-apollo8. jpg” data-url=”https://news.google.com/planete/definitions/structure-earth-earth-4725/” data-more=”Read more”>Earth A giant one was with the ends cut off to block the passage of waffles while they were growing root.

This little pocket gopher is spilling dirt from its ongoing dig. Digging is so energy-intensive that the roots found in the process do not provide enough food. But by harvesting root crops over time, he gets enough energy to keep digging. © Veronica Selden, Jack Putz

It’s about definitions

And they saw a thriving root growth. By feeding the soil with natural fertilizer, these become few rodents may or may not be considered farmers. It’s all just a matter of definition. “For some people, sowing culture is what agriculture is all about‘ said Putz. However, many other animals, as well as various human cultures, use horticultural techniques to tend to crops they do not grow themselves. I find the whole question intellectually exciting because it hasn’t really been resolved. »

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