Changes in Mammal Body Size in the Geological Past Provide Clues to Understanding Current Climate Change

Changes in Mammal Body Size in the Geological Past Provide Clues to Understanding Current Climate Change

Nov 08, 2013

Using the size of fossil molar teeth as a proxy for body size, doctoral student Abigail D’Ambrosia and colleagues have shown that early mammals shrank twice in the Paleogene Era, indicating an important pattern that could inform our understanding of current climate change.

“Developing a better understanding of the relationship between mammalian body size change and greenhouse gas-induced global warming during the geological past may help us predict ecological changes that may occur in response to current changes in Earth’s climate,” says professor of geology Will Clyde who is D’Ambrosia's faculty advisor. 

In addition to D’Ambrosia and Clyde, researchers on the project are Philip Gingerich, a professor of Earth and environmental sciences at the University of Michigan, Henry C. Fricke of Colorado College, and Kathryn Snell of the California Institute of Technology.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation (EAR0958821), the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, and Sigma Xi.

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