Kangaroos ‘barometer of climate change’

August 4th, 2010 - 5:25 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, August 4 (ANI): Kangaroo evolution could be the key to understanding climate change, shows a new study.

Flinders University’s Gavin Prideaux and a Murdoch University anatomist have pieced together a detailed kangaroo family tree, using fossils and skeletons.

Kangaroos and wallabies have long been recognised as potentially ideal barometers of historical climatic change in Australia, Prideaux said.

Now, the tree has provided the team hints of key stages in the evolution of the animals.

“We are now able to say that many of the key stages within the evolution of the group actually match quite closely with key stages in the evolution of Australia’s climate,” The Australian quoted Prideaux as saying.

Kangaroos lived in the undergrowth 25 million years ago and emerged dominant after Australia started to become drier 15 million years ago.

“It is very difficult to make any reasonable predictions based on really short-term data. You need long-term data provided by the fossil records on what kind of impact these changes can have on … Australian animals,” he added.

“We know very little about the biology and the ecology of the animal, but it is really significant from an evolutionary perspective because its lineage evolved in the early days of the evolution of kangaroos,” said Prideaux.

Their findings are published this month in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. (ANI)

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