Ancient Survivors Of Climate Change Are Endangered Australasian Marsupials

Posted: Nov 24 2016, 12:08pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

Ancient Survivors of Climate Change are Endangered Australasian Marsupials
Lemdubuoryctes aruensis fossil teeth and jaws. Credit: Ken Aplin
  • Rare Aussie Marsupials are Surviving Products of Global Warming
 

Some of the rare Aussie marsupials are surviving products of global warming.

A new study, published in Scientific Reports, shows that fossils and DNA from ancient marsupials have a lot to teach us humans regarding climate change. This process is not just a novel phenomenon. In fact, it was extant way back then as well.

Bandicoots were where the investigation began. The diffusion of marsupials began vis-a vis climate change in ancient times. Many of these are present today in the form of rodents and rabbits.

These species are present in the deserts and rainforests of Australia, New Guinea and the smaller surrounding islands. 

Most bandicoots are under pressure from invading vectors, habitat destruction and human poaching. Their fossils help us piece together a picture of how Australia’s biodiversity matched up in relation to climate change in the past.

A shift towards drought, five to ten million years ago drove these species into annihilation. Also in their place, more modern species began to appear.

Australia’s mammals are more of a product of desert conditions. They faced scarce rainfall and loss of vegetation. Yet they survived despite all the odds against them. 

The hypothesis mentioned a paragraph back was based on evidence collected from the tooth structure and fossils of these marsupials of the past. A new fossil of a bandicoot termed Lemdubuoryctes aruensis comes originally from the Indonesian islands.

Most of the earliest bandicoots are 25 million years old. However, teeth from 50 million years in the past show a lineage that goes way back into the eons of ancient prehistoric times.

The modern bandicoots appeared 5 million years ago though. The Indonesian island fossils of these bandicoots are suprisingly only 9000 years old. 

These bandicoots did not live in tropical rainforests. Instead they thrived in open savannah land. This stretched between Australia and New Guinea. The time period we are talking about dates back to the last glacial age.

The Australian fauna spread via a redistribution when the climate change pressures impinged upon them. There is DNA proof of all this.

Bandicoots are thus a case in point regarding the fauna of Australia which are the most isolated forms of animals that are different from the rest of the world’s creatures.

This all has applications in today’s world. Conservation and environmental activism ought to double down on efforts to save the habitat of animals and humans both.

With global warming on an ever-increasing pace, destruction and devastation lie ahead unless we are very careful regarding man-made pollution. 

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.

 

 

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