Africas animals may evolve into separate species, thanks to climate change

September 1st, 2008 - 2:35 pm ICT by ANI  

Edinburgh, September 1 (ANI): A new research, by scientists at the Edinburgh University, has suggested that climate change could make Africas animals evolve into a number of new separate species.

According to a report in the Scotsman, the future loss of lakes and rivers in Africa would influence how species such as buffalo, wildebeest and elephants evolve.

Large populations of animals, which need water to survive, could be divided and, over time, evolve into new species to cope with their new surroundings.

An isolated population of buffalo, unable to interbreed with others, might evolve to the size of small elephants in the future, in order to accommodate a larger stomach, according to the report.

Alternatively, it might develop huge, long legs to carry them further distances to water and better food sources.

Researchers at Edinburgh University studied the loss of rivers and lakes in Africa millions of years ago, when forests dried to grassland.

They have shown that groups of animals became isolated from one another over large distances by the need to stay close to a watering hole, lake or river.

Over millions of years, the groups evolved into different species, such as gazelles, buffalo and wildebeest.

According to Dr Julian Derry, of Edinburgh Universitys School of Biological Sciences, the findings suggest that modern-day climate change may lead to an increase in the number of species in Africa, just as it did millions of years ago.

When Africa dried to grassy plains, groups of animals would stay close to their local source of water, and groups would have become separated by large distances across the plains. We believe this separation played a key role in the evolution of many of the species we recognize today, she said.

Modern-day climate change could break up water networks like it did millions of years ago, she added. (ANI)

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