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Will Global Warming Shrink Animals?

Will Global Warming Shrink Animals?

What doesnít kill you makes you smaller. Okay, thatís not exactly how the expression goes, but it may still prove true if recent research pans out. According to a new study, global warming is likely to shrink mammals. Prepare for all of your favorite creatures to get tinier.

Experts believe shrinking is a reasonable expectation based on precedent. By examining the skeletons of mammals that lived during previous periods of extreme heat, researchers were able to chart how species physically decreased in size.

55 million years ago, temperatures spiked by up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit worldwide for a span of 160,000 years. Remains from creatures that lived during this time demonstrate that they were smaller than their ancestors. Though the heat gradually subsided and mammals regrew to their normal size two million years later, global temperatures soared a second time causing the animals to dwarf yet again.

ďThe fact that it happened twice significantly increases our confidence that weíre seeing cause and effect, that one interesting response to global warming in the past was a substantial decrease in body size in mammalian species,Ē said Philip Gingerich, a University of Michigan professor and lead researcher on the study.

Gingerichís findings back up research he conducted seven years ago. Evidence suggests that in periods of global warming, plants generate fewer life-sustaining nutrients. As a result, mammals adapted by shrinking, thereby accommodating a lower nutrient intake.

Perhaps more significantly, this research also supports earlier studies by other scientific teams, as well.† Other studies have linked an increase in carbon dioxide levels with shrinking mammals. Even if only one of carbon emissions and heat actually causes animal shrinking, considering that both are the result of manmade climate change, it makes it all the more likely that weíll be getting smaller.

Thatís right, we. Letís not forget that humans are mammals, too. Assuming that our species can survive this environmental crisis, that means that our descendants are also liable to be shrunken versions of ourselves.

Mammals arenít the only things expected to shrink thanks to climate change, however. Leaked documents from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that the group anticipates the available food supply to decrease drastically in the near future. Additionally, Nature Climate Change journal estimates that 34% of animals will lose at least half of their habitat by 2080. With both food and living spaces shrinking, it only makes sense that the earthís creatures will need to evolve in order to adapt to these new conditions.

All of this research stands to illustrate that bigger isnít always better. In fact, in the face of mounting global warming, getting smaller might be our best shot at survival.

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83 comments

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12:33PM PDT on Jul 30, 2014

thanks for sharing :)

12:41PM PST on Dec 23, 2013

Cool we can all become Elf's for Christmas... :)

5:00AM PST on Nov 23, 2013

Thank you

6:53PM PST on Nov 11, 2013

With my dog ​​Ilara causes the climate change, they often change the fur!
Before about 10 - 15 years it was normal that a dog (or other animal) changed 2 times a year the fur (summer and winter fur)

2:43PM PST on Nov 11, 2013

I think it's more that larger members of a species will die sooner if food and water becomes scarce, as well as a**hole hunters always killing the biggest specimen to have as a trophy on their walls....

9:50AM PST on Nov 11, 2013

ty

9:49AM PST on Nov 11, 2013

ty

4:04PM PST on Nov 10, 2013

So what will happen to us...

6:59AM PST on Nov 9, 2013

The climate has spiked before, no bloody way! Reckon that might have something to do with why it's currently heating up/changing? You can't blame people solely for climate change it's very obvious that Earth does it on a regular basis, it's true humanity has speed up this particular change but it just means we're more likely to experience and extinction level weather event earlier then what would have been normal. Ice ages and global melting happen regularly on Earth and all this research proves is that mammals have been able to survive climate change. So what if we're smaller?

9:26PM PST on Nov 8, 2013

So we'll all be the size of roaches and they will eat us.

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