A new study shed light on the consequences of climate change on dogs. It turns out dogs might have looked more like mongooses in the past.
Nature Communications has published a new study involving dog fossils from 40 million years ago. The study indicates that climate change might have had an effect on the evolution of some groups of predators.
Professor of evolutionary biology and ecology from Brown University, Christine Janis considers certain consequences of climate change to be fairly obvious even though they could not be proven in the past. She thinks that both herbivores and predators are sensitive to the changes that appear in their environment, whether they are related to habitat or climate.
Dogs are considered to be native from North America, a place believed to be full of forests and where the climate was warm about 40 million years ago.
The fossils might indicate some consequences of climate change on dogs, as they appear to have looked a lot more different than the dogs we see today. They are believed to have resembled mongooses.
Specialists say the fossils make them believe that dogs used to be smaller in size. The forelimbs don’t resemble ones made for running, but rather made for grabbing the prey, as they seem more flexible.
The weather in North America became colder and the land was drier. Soon, the forests made way for plains. This had an impact on the evolution of dogs as well.
After analysing the elbows and teeth of 32 species of dogs that lived somewhere between 40 million years ago and 2 million years ago, researchers could tell that there were certain consequences of climate change in dogs.
The elbows and the bones connected to them show a bit of evolution from the past, when dogs would grab and wrestle their pray. The teeth were also stronger and more durable. Dogs were no longer ambushers, but slowly became faster and started chasing after their prey. They began to look like coyotes or foxes and soon resembled wolves.
The results of this study contradict the belief that predators evolved just because their pray has changed. Researchers would much rather believe that climate change had a greater impact on the evolution of such species.
Specialists also believe that the evolution noticed in certain species over the last 40 million years could continue because the climate is still changing. Studying the phenomenon in depth could actually reveal what other consequences climate change will have in the future.
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