Researchers have found proof of the start of the Anthropocene period, the latest geological epoch for planet Earth.
The proof was found in the shape of a golden spike discovered in the heartwood of what is being claimed as the world's loneliest tree.
Researchers observe that mankind has been impacting Earth's ecosystems for centuries. Many also think that the sudden rise in radioactive carbon dating caused by nuclear weapon testing in the 1950s to 1960s as the actual point of the newly dominant part of humanity is the main influencer of change in climate.
A New Geological Epoch Called Anthropocene
Now, a research team has discovered the direct proof of the golden spike in one tree, a Sitka spruce, which was spotted on Campbell Island located in the center of the South Ocean. The spruce has been termed the loneliest on Earth because its nearest neighboring tree stands 125 miles away from it in the Auckland Islands.
"The impact that humanity's nuclear weapons testing has had on the Earth's atmosphere provides a global signal that unambiguously demonstrates that humans have become the major agent of change on the planet," said Christopher Fogwill, glaciology and paleoclimatology professor.
Fogwill added that it is an important but a worrying discovery.
Scientists Unanimously Agree That New Epoch Has Started
Scientists from throughout the planet mostly agree that the new epoch has begun. It is marked by mankind's effect on the environment and climate. Also, the proof can be seen in the spread of artificial materials such as plastics, shrinking ice sheets, and rising temperatures throughout the ecosystems of the planet.
To date, researchers have yet to reach a unanimous agreement on a universal signal implying the epoch's start, a signal which could be taken as detectable and constant through the geologic records.
Now, however, the research team associated with the study has described the unique Sitka tree and its proof as the signal that marks the Anthropocene epoch. Professor Chris Turney, the lead author of the study, said that they were excited to discover the signal on the remote island in the Southern Hemisphere. That's because it gave them the first enunciated global signature for a new geological epoch, which will be helpful for preserving geological records.
Thousands of years later, the golden spike will exist as a prominent transformation marker of the planet by humans.
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.