New Horizons in Science

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Tiny mammals, giant reptiles: Fossil snapshots of biotic response to climate

Topic: Paleontology
Fossilized mammal lying prone
Monday, November 4, 2013 -
9:30am to 10:15am
Century Ballroom B

What will happen to life on Earth in a rapidly warming planet? Jon Bloch says we have only to look in the fossil record for abundant data from past global hyperthermal events—the big experiments already run by the planet. Along with Titanoboa, the 48-foot long biggest snake ever, he has found the tiny ungulate ancestors of horses, cows, pigs, camels, rhinos and whales during a big planetary warmup around 60 million years ago. Bloch’s recent work in the Americas tells a dynamic story of the biotic response to global climate change. Sharing the stage are early primates, furious battles between invasive and endemic species and, yes, monkeys rafting the open seas.


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