Monday, March 20, 2017

Tiny Toasty Mammals

Though not quite the fossils used in the study, if this dog were
to keep overheating like this for about 10,000 years, we might
start to see a smaller version of it!
     We sure do love looking at small animals, from puppies to miniature pigs to that small mouse we obsessed over in CCS bio that one time. It seems that we could be heading in the direction of smaller mammals again! You might think this is great news, but of course, it's yet another result of good old global warming. This paper by Ambrosia et.al. (2107) looks into the fossil record to find if and how mammals have changed size in the past based on the average temperature of the earth. The paper focuses on the time periods known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum(PETM) about 56 million years ago and the Eocene Thermal Maximum 2(EMT2) about 53 million years ago. These two time periods were chosen because they were known as global warming periods. After looking at the tooth size of various fossils found to be from these two time periods, it was found that they decreased significantly in size as the periods went on, more so during the EMT2 time period as opposed to the PETM most likely due to the fact that EMT2 was more of an extreme change in temperature. Why do we care about this stuff? Because it's super cool! Animals get tiny because it gets hot and they need to conserve and that's just wild! It's also an important aspect to look into as we get further into our current global warming period and we need to think about how it could affect the earth and ecosystems over an extended period of time. Read the study to find out a ton more and learn about cool(or hot...) science!
http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/3/e1601430.full

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