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Study: The First Horses Were The Size Of A Cat

  • Uploaded by Ghost32 on Feb 26, 2012
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BY ELIZABETH RINEHART
ANCHOR ANA COMPAIN-ROMERO

According to a study published Friday, scientists have found a correlation between climate change and an ancestor of modern-day horses. Unlike the animal of today, however, the 'first horse' named Sifrhippus...

" ... was the size of a cat, ate leaves rather than grass and counts as a horse only in scientific classification. It might have made a nice pet if anyone had been around to domesticate it, but the first hominids were a good 50 million years in the future."(Source: The New York Times)

It was originally the size of a miniature schnauzer- about 12 pounds. It then shrunk to 8 pounds before bouncing back up to 15 pounds. What caused this shift in size? Infozine reports that...

"Sifrhippus lived during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a 175,000-year interval of time some 56 million years ago in which average global temperatures rose by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit."

By studying the teeth of the fossilized mammal, the team of scientists was able to come to the conclusion that there's a link between climate change - and animal size.

"So, what we've documented is a high-resolution of horse/body size evolution that corresponds with the climate evolution of the Big Horn Basin." (Source: Earth Sky)

But - scientists have found a link between heat and animal size in the past. As NBC points out...

"The findings fit with what is known about modern-day mammals and birds, which are generally smaller near the equator. This may be because smaller size helps animals regulate their body temperatures in the heat, or perhaps because of the availability of food sources."

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, this is all part of what could become a larger problem...

"The finding raised important questions about how plants and animals will respond to rapid change as scientists predict climate warming by as much as 7 degrees over the next century."

As one of the researchers said, regarding global warming,

"We're going to be walking around three feet tall if we keep going the way we're going,"

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