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New Fossils Document Impact of Climate Change on Evolution

posted: 03/10/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Paleontologists dig for fossils in war-torn Libya.
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Paleontologists dig for fossils in war-torn Libya.
Yaowalak Chaimanee, University of Poitiers, France

Recently unearthed fossils are helping scientists better understand a phenomenon that may recur in the near future: the impact of climate change on evolution.

A team of paleontologists ventured into Libya and uncovered 30 million-year-old mammal fossils from the Oligocene epoch.The specimens differ greatly from fossils discovered in Egypt from the same time period.

Paleontologists attribute this difference to climate change. Dr. Christopher Beard of the University of Kansas describes the results of this fragmentation as "allopatric speciation." Beard believes, "when populations of the same species become isolated because of habitat fragmentation or some other barrier to free gene flow, given enough time, different species will emerge."

Plans to return to the dig site are on an indefinite hold due to the armed conflict in the region.

Click here to read the full story on the University of Kansas website.

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