Describe the evolutionary dynamics of North American mammals

Describe the evolutionary dynamics of North American mammals

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A study by researchers from the University of Malaga, Borja Figueirido, Paul Palmqvist and Juan Antonio Pérez Claros, showed in 2011 that the fossil record of North American mammals can be summarized in six major faunal associations, which occur throughout time during the Cenozoic, last 66 million years.

The finding was published in 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences', A prestigious American scientific journal that has recently echoed a new work by this team of paleontologists from the UMA, where such faunal associations have been ecologically characterized, from the perspective of the adaptations shown by the groups of mammals that make them up, taking into account their types of feeding, modes of locomotion or body size.

According to the experts, the results obtained indicate that these evolutionary faunas have a unique association of ecological types, in response to variations in the prevailing climatic conditions at the time of each fauna, the consequent changes in the predominant vegetation and the faunal dispersal events that were favored by such changes.

Furthermore, the study documents that over the last 66 million years there has been a trend towards a higher degree of ecological specialization during the course of the evolution of North American mammals, in parallel with lasting climatic changes and their consequences on the predominant type of vegetation.

“The fossil record represents the only archive available to document the evolution of life during the history of the earth, allowing to have a retrospective vision of how the changes in the climate and the environment during the geological past affected the organisms and past ecosystems ”, explains Professor Paul Palmqvist.

The researcher from the University of Malaga affirms that the increase in the degree of specialization in the six large faunal associations, in some cases, was favored by the appearance in the evolutionary scenario of Old World immigrant groups, but in others, it took place thanks to the evolution of the components of the endemic fauna of the continent.

"These results may provide important clues for managing the biodiversity crisis caused by climate change that we are experiencing today, largely induced by human action," says Figueirido, lead author of the article.

Via: University of Malaga

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