The size and types of the largest local land animals vary greatly from place to place, prompting scientists to question what controls the success of animals of certain sizes over others. Now a report published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the size of a landmass limits the maximal body size of its top animal.
Gary Burness and Jared Diamond of the University of California School of Medicine, together with Timothy Flannery of the South Australian Museum in Adelaide, examined the body size and food requirements of top terrestrial animals from the last 65,000 years. The list included herbivores and carnivores from 25 oceanic islands and five continents, ranging from the woolly mammoth of Eurasia to the dwarf hippopotamus of Cyprus. The researchers found that the maximal body size of land animals relates to the size of the landmass on which they live: larger animals require larger individual territories to obtain sufficient food. And because more food is available to herbivores from a given area, they tend to be larger than carnivores inhabiting the same range.
According to the report, this relationship between land area and animal size is strong enough to induce evolutionary change over long time periods. The authors cite examples of animals that migrated from mainland environments to colonize an island for which they were too large and those species that grew in response to a new, relatively colossal home range. The Wrangel Island mammoth, for one, declined approximately 65 percent in body size in the 5,000 years after the severing of the land bridge linking the island to Eurasia.
Sarah Graham | Scientific American
The body's street sweepers
18.12.2017 | Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Life on the edge prepares plants for climate change
18.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie
A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.
In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...
Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
18.12.2017 | Life Sciences
18.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.12.2017 | Life Sciences