The Hotter It Gets, The Smaller We Get?

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-11_df7582fd1f.jpgiStock/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- Global warming might make us all shrink. University of Michigan paleontologist Philip Gingerich says it's happened before in world history when warming periods dating 55 million and 53 million years ago led to primates and mammals, including horses and deer, to become much smaller.

With global warming becoming a major concern, Gingerich says mammalian "dwarfing" is again possible because decreased body size is an evolutionary response to hyperthermals or warming events. Gingerich and his researchers studied fossils of jaws and teeth of early hooved mammals and primates to make their determination.

Will Clyde of the University of New Hampshire, who was part of the study, adds that this early link between mammalian body size change and greenhouse gas-induced global warming could predict ecological changes that may occur in response to current changes in Earth's climate.

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