Relationship Found Between Global Warming and Mammal Body Size


deerThose in environmental science have long recognized that there is a direct link between global warming and the body size of mammals, including primates, horses and deer. During the period of global warming that took place approximately 55 million years ago, known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, these animals became much smaller in size. Now researchers from the University of Michigan have found that the same effect occurred during a separate and less significant warming event around 2 million years later.

Paleontologist Philip Gingerich, along with his colleagues from the University of New Hampshire, CIT and Colorado College, determined from their findings that a decrease in body size is a common response brought about through evolution in response to extreme global warming. These global warming events are also referred to as Hyperthermals. According to the report from Environmental News Network, the “dwarfing” may be the predictable natural response in some mammalian lineages to future global warming.

The finding supports the idea that this is a case of cause-and-effect, increasing the likelihood that there is a direct link between these two conditions. Although scientists do not know what caused the PETM 55 million years ago, the temperature of the earth was increased between 5 and 9 degrees Celsius. Scientists hope that using the information that is available to them about this period in history will aid in understanding where the climate may be heading today in particular, due to the increasing concern about manmade global warming.
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