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Ancient mammals shifted diets as climate changed

Mammals change their dietary based on climate changes, dispelling the common notion that species maintain their diets despite global warming.

Led by Florida Museum of Natural History vertebrate paleontologist Larisa DeSantis, researchers examined fossil teeth from mammals at two sites representing different climates in Florida: a glacial period about 1.9 million years ago and a warmer, interglacial period about 1.3 million years ago. The researchers found that interglacial warming resulted in dramatic changes to the diets of animal groups at both sites.

“When people are modeling future mammal distributions, they’re assuming that the niches of mammals today are going to be the same in the future,” DeSantis said. “That’s a huge assumption.”

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