Evolution has an interesting way of developing. Every time size becomes prominent, extinction eliminates it and small creatures run nature until bigger players re-emerge. These were the conclusions of a newly released study which confirmed that extinction kills nature’s big animals and gives the throne to tinier beings. And this entire process never lasts just a few years. It can take up to centuries to have the big specimens back in charge.
The study was developed and conducted by Lauren Sallan, a paleontologist from the University of Pennsylvania. It was published on Thursday this week and it reveals the fascinating way in which nature chooses who stays alive and who doesn’t. It also challenges our views in terms of who we think lives and who we think remains at the top of the food chain.
So if you always voted for the large creatures to stick around longer, you might have been placing your bets on the wrong specimens.
After having studies the fish that led their lives during the so called Mississippian period, some 350 million years ago, Sallan noticed that there were far smaller specimens that those that came before them. This obviously caught Sallan’s interest and she wanted to find out more about why this happened. Why was it that fish were small all of a sudden? Why didn’t the big boys linger around longer?
In an interview concerning the study, Dr. Sallan specifically mentioned that this “little detail” “piqued her curiosity”. Other paleontologists concluded that some species shrunk in size the more they evolved, a phenomenon known as the Lilliput Effect. In Sallan’s case, this seemed to be the obvious explanation, but what also needed to be answered was why this phenomenon was occurring.
The most obvious explanation is that extinction was caused because Earth god cold all of a sudden. Glaciers were brought very close to the tropics, if not within those areas. A process such as this one obviously causes different adaptation processes and having a big body during a cold period is certainly not a good way to live.
Imagine that a large body consumes a lot more energy to sustain itself because it needs to stay hot on a larger area. But if the body is small, it requires less energy to heat itself up. Thus, being a small creature in a cold world is a great advantage.
Extinction kills nature’s big animals and makes it easier for little ones to survive. It is a natural process that has maintained life on the planet for millions of years.
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