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9 ancient man-made environmental catastrophes

By: Bryan Nelson on Nov. 25, 2009, 8:38 a.m.
Stone Age Europe

Photo: Wiki Commons/CC License

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Stone Age Europe

Humans who pre-dated major civilizations were just as capable of radically changing the environment of an entire continent as we are today. Ancient people from the Mesolithic and Neolithic eras, wielding only stone axes (like those seen here) were able to clear whole forests across Europe, replacing them with open grassland ecosystems. In Great Britain, for instance, shade-tolerant species such as oak and ash were replaced in the pollen record by hazels, brambles, grasses and nettles.