6 November 2018

Evolution, climate change, and long-snouted dolphins

Ultimate biology nerd clickbait title right?

Ed Jong, on the Atlantic, giving a possible explanation on why a few fossil dolphin species had an unusual long snout, sometimes as much as five times longer than their heads:

Crucially, these long-snouted species arose during a time in the middle of the Miocene when ocean temperatures started climbing. In cold water, warm-blooded predators like dolphins have an advantage over cold-blooded prey like fish or squid, because they’re better at maintaining a high metabolism and swimming at high speeds. As the oceans warm, fish can move faster and the dolphins’ advantage disappears. Perhaps some of them regained the upper hand by evolving long snouts that could swiftly sweep through shoals of prey.

Nature is fascinating.

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