Mammals Grew Huge After Dino Die-Off

With less competition for vegetation, they 'exploded' in size
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2010 10:10 AM CST
An Indian Rhinoceros refreshing itself in a pool in the zoo in Basel, Switzerland Wednesday, July 14, 2010.   (AP Photo/dapd/Winfried Rothermel)

(Newser) – Mammals were a lot smaller before the dinosaurs went extinct—but got really, really, really big once dinos were gone, scientists say. New research published in the journal Science shows that, over the course of 25 million years, the largest mammals increased in size 1,000-fold from the time of the dinosaurs, from a maximum of 22 pounds to a whopping 17 tons, the Telegraph reports. That may seem like a long time, but it's "actually a pretty short time frame, geologically speaking," says a researcher. "That's really rapid evolution."

The reason: With dinosaurs gone, mammals faced less competition when it came to eating plants, "and it's more efficient to be an herbivore when you're big," the biologist says.

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |