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
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21.09.2017 | NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
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21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine