As Earth warms up, animals are 'shape-shifting' to survive better: Study
Whether it's about new climate or new workplace, adapting to changing circumstances proves to be an important trait for survival. Animals and even plants in the wild show examples of modifying their behaviour and even biology as conditions change. All this pieces together the puzzle of evolution nicely.
A study has revealed that some animals are 'shape shifting' and various parts of their bodies are transforming to better adapt global warming. Some of them are developing bigger tails. Others are developing different beaks and ears in order to survive in the changing conditions. Researchers have found that bigger body parts are developing so that these animals could lose body heat more effectively.
Climate change is heaping "a whole lot of pressure" on animals, said Sara Ryding of Deakin University in Australia, who led the study, in a press release.
"It's high time we recognised that animals also have to adapt to these changes, but this is occurring over a far shorter timescale than would have occurred through most of evolutionary time," she said.
The study has been published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution. The study reviewed previous research "where climatic warming is a potential hidden explanatory variable for the occurrence of shape-shifting" and found trends particularly noticeable in birds.
The Australian parrot, for example, had shown an average 4-10 percent increase in the size of its bill since 1871 and the authors said this positively correlated with the summer temperature each year.
Other birds, like North American dark-eyed juncos, thrushes and Galapagos finches also saw bill size increases.
Meanwhile, the wings of the great roundleaf bat grew, the European rabbit developed bigger ears, while the tails and legs of masked shrews were found to be larger.
"Shape-shifting does not mean that animals are coping with climate change and that all is 'fine'," said Ryding.
"It just means they are evolving to survive it -- but we're not sure what the other ecological consequences of these changes are, or indeed that all species are capable of changing and surviving."