STATES CHRONICLE – Global warming is not only threatening several types of species with extinction, but it may also cause mammal shrinking, determining some species of mammals to diminish their size. A new study which was published on March 15 in the Science Advances magazine indicates that mammals are affected by global warming after researchers analyzed a series of 53.7 million-year-old teeth which were unearthed in the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming.
The collection of teeth was revealed in the Bighorn Basin
The dental records which were discovered indicated a particular and consistent trend in the fossil record. Apparently, ancient species displayed a particular decrease in body size in response to climate change. Scientists have been considered this to be a forecast for what is bound to happen to people and animals in the future. Abigail D’Ambrosia, a paleoclimatologist at the University of New Hampshire who was also the lead author of the study, claimed that we should think about the fact that these animals had more than 10,000 years to adjust to rapid climate change.
She also noted that nowadays we are fueling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at ten times the rate to which those ancient creatures were exposed to. Today, global warming is ten times more intense than it was in the past. The Bighorn Basin is located 80 miles east of Yellowstone National Park, situated under the Wyoming sky. This basin represents a geologic oasis and a time machine because of well-preserved animal and plant fossils.
D’Ambrosia and her colleagues established that mammal shrinking happened because of climate change
Since 2010, D’Ambrosia has spent a lot of time at this site in a search for some fossils. She argued that she was looking for teeth about ancient species, indicating that animals, just like humans, have enamel which resists to breakdown or weather conditions over time. She also stated that in adult mammals the size of the teeth is subordinate for the size of their bodies.
Her study was concentrated upon teeth which were dating back from Paleocene through Eocene. Over the course of million years, the greenhouse gas effect determined three global climate change events known as hyperthermals. The first of these three events was also the most massive one, called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum which started about 56 million years ago. This hyperthermal event caused global temperature to rise by 9 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit during the last 10,000 years.
Scientists observed the fossils discovered and established that some mammals, like Arenahippus pernix, had adapted to these drastic climate changes through mammal shrinking. They revealed that the body of this ancient horse has shrunk by 14% due to the high temperatures in the Eocene Thermal Maximum 2.
Image courtesy of: flickr