Do you remember the cult classic horror film, The Incredible Shrinking Man? It’s unfathomable plot focused on man shrinking in size, due to some nefarious chemical dispersed by a foreboding cloud. It immediately appealed to sci-fi fanboys and fangirls of the late 1950s.
But could something like that have any scientific basis in reality, especially in today’s world where we’ve grown so skeptical of conspiracy theories? Well, hold on to your popcorn film buffs, because animals roaming the 21st Century's planet might just be shrinking in size . . . right before our very eyes.
Natural Warming, the culprit?
Warm-blooded animals have been reduced in size at least twice in Earth’s history. This has a direct correlation to carbon dioxide levels soaring and temperatures spiked as part of global warming, according to a new scientific study.
University of New Hampshire researcher Abigail D’Ambrosia warned that mammals specifically could actually shrivel in the future due to man-made release of carbon dioxide emissions.
“It’s something we need to keep an eye out for,” said D’Ambrosia, who leads this research. “The question is how fast are we going to see these changes.”
Three different species shrank noticeably approximately 54 million years ago when there was evidence the planet heated up similarly to what we are experiencing today. One of them — an early, compact horse — shrunk 14 percent smaller, from 17 pounds to 14.6 pounds, according to an analysis of fossil teeth, cited in a report released by the journal Science Advances.
“These guys were probably about the size of maybe a dog, then dwarfed,” noted D’Ambrosia. “They may have gone down to the size of a cat.”
“Body size change during periods of climate change is commonly seen throughout historical and geological records among mammals and other organisms,” said D'Ambrosia.
“Nutrient availability along with rising temperatures and drought, may also have a direct effect on body size. Drought conditions have been known to lead to smaller offspring. This suggests that dwarfing will rise with some mammals due to an escalation of future global warming.
“Today, we’re warming and pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at 10 times the rate of these ancient global warming events,” added D'Ambrosia.
Pretty scary stuff. It's a cautionary tale. Perhaps, we need to take a deeper dive into Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth," don’t you think?
Primary Source: Science Advances