Cocaine, as they say, is one hell of a drug. In fact, it was recently shown in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science to have greatly helped the re-wilding a good chunk of Columbia.
How you might ask?
Pablo Escobar's hippos, which are still hanging around breeding in Columbia today, were bought with cash made from selling massive amounts of nose candy. Instead of simply shitting in the water and troubling anything that moves, they've been busy fulfilling the role of long-absent megafauna in Columbia's ecosystem.
“While we found that some introduced herbivores are perfect ecological matches for extinct ones, in others cases the introduced species represents a mix of traits seen in extinct species,” study co-author John Rowan, a study co-author and biology researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said in a statement.
Pablo’s hippos, for instance, are similar in diet and size to the now-extinct giant llamas that once roamed the area. They’re also similar in size and semiaquatic behavior to another extinct species, notoungulates, which have been gone for thousands of years. That allows them to fill two long-vacated roles in the Colombian ecosystem they were introduced to after Escobar died and they began to roam the countryside.
According to Gizmodo, it's not just hippos jazzing up local ecosystems where they don't belong. The study also looked at 72 other invasive species to see if their introduction to an ecosystem had been a boon or a blight. In 64% of the cases that the study examined, the introduced species showed the potential to fulfill the roles of long extinct animals in a given ecosystem that could have a effect on the ecosystem's overall health.
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