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Climate Change Makes Animals, People 'Shrink'

Warmer, drier weather makes plants and animals get smaller
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2011 4:36 PM CDT
Climate Change Makes Animals, People 'Shrink'
A polar bear watches a whaling crew photographing the animal near Barrow, Alaska, Monday, May 22, 2006.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of Mary Sage, Joseph Napaaqtuq Sage, file)

(Newser) – Plants, polar bears, and people are among the living things likely to shrink thanks to global warming, scientists say. Drawing on several scientific papers, the Telegraph reports that warmer, drier weather makes plants and animals get smaller, which reduces food supplies for those higher up the food chain. "The consequences of shrinkage are not yet fully understood, but could be far-reaching for biodiversity and humans alike," two scientists say.

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Toads, tortoises, red deer, and other animals have already been shrinking this century—which is no surprise, considering that invertebrates shrank by up to 75% during an earlier global warming (we're talking 55 million years ago). As for people, we're likely to eat smaller portions and face greater vulnerability to disease. Other species will be worse off: Because temperatures are expected to rise quickly—7 degrees Celsius by 2100—"many organisms may not respond or adapt quickly enough," the scientists say. (Read more global warming stories.)

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