SCIENCE

Elephant And Whale Poop Is Important To The Planet And Here’s Why

Human activities are killing off large mammals—and that could have devastating effects on the farming industry

Oct 26, 2015 at 4:45 PM ET

Mammoths and mastodons once roamed the icy landscape, pooping everywhere. Millions of whales would rise to the pristine ocean surface to empty their bowels; elephants gleefully grazed in the valleys and defecated on the hills. The Earth recycled its nutrients, and there was a balance.

More Mammals Pee Pretty Much The Same: Why It Matters

The end of the last ice age, however, meant the extinction of 150 large mammalian species, and subsequent years have not been kind to elephants or whales, some of our last remaining megafauna. Due to human activities, most large mammals are now in decline—and with the planets’ greatest fertilizers rapidly dying out, scientists now say many of the key nutrients our planet has recycled for millennia may be disappearing. Here’s why megafauna feces matter: