#1 WHALE OF AN APPETITE Blue whales evolved into giants when ‘climate change turned them into binge eaters’ by algernonpj 24.05.2017 18:23

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WHALE OF AN APPETITE Blue whales evolved into giants when ‘climate change turned them into binge eaters’
Gigantic beasties might have been a bit smaller if they managed to curb their appetites 4.5 million years ago
By Jasper Hamill
24th May 2017, 12:00 am

BLUE whales and other underwater leviathans became giants when climate change introduced them to binge-eating, research has shown.

At more than 100ft long, the blue whale is the largest vertebrate animal that has ever lived.

It also dwarfs its ancestors. Scientists have discovered that whales with bodies longer than 10 metres (33ft) only made an appearance roughly 4.5 million years ago.

At the same time, smaller species of whale began to vanish, suggesting that large size was suddenly an important advantage.

The reason for the size expansion of the blue whale and other baleen whales was food, the researchers believe.

All baleen whales have a filter system in their mouth that sifts out tiny shrimp-like sea creatures known as krill.

As ice sheets covered the northern hemisphere, krill ceased to be distributed thinly throughout the oceans.

Instead, it became concentrated at certain times of year in coastal areas where run-off from the newly formed ice caps washed nutrients into the sea.

For the whales, it made sense to make the most of the seasonal abundant food by bingeing. Filter-feeding and large body size both made for more efficient eating when faced with dense accumulations of prey.

Dr Graham Slater, a member of the US team from the University of Chicago, said: “We might imagine that whales just gradually got bigger over time, as if by chance, and perhaps that could explain how these whales became so massive.

“But our analyses show that this idea doesn’t hold up – the only way that you can explain baleen whales becoming the giants they are today is if something changed in the recent past that created an incentive to be a giant and made it disadvantageous to be small.”


The scientists analysed fossil whale skulls housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC to estimate the size of 63 extinct species.

Among the fossils were the earliest baleen whales, which lived more than 30 million years ago.
The team incorporated data from 13 species of modern whale to work out evolutionary relationships between whales of different sizes.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, clearly showed that for most of their history, baleen whales were nothing like as large as they are today.

Co-author Dr Jeremy Goldbogen, from Stanford University in California, said: "We live in a time of giants. Baleen whales have never been this big, ever."

Another advantage of large size was the ability to make epic journeys of thousands of miles to take advantage of seasonally abundant food supplies, said the scientists. most massive vertebrates.

"But today's oceans and climate are changing at geological scales in the course of human lifetimes.

"With these rapid changes, does the ocean have the capacity to sustain several billion people and the world's largest whales?

"The clues to answer this question lie in our ability to learn from Earth's deep past - the crucible of our present world - embedded in the fossil record."

https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/3633387/bl...o-binge-eaters/

#2 RE: WHALE OF AN APPETITE Blue whales evolved into giants when ‘climate change turned them into binge eaters’ by Cincinnatus 24.05.2017 19:45

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OMG, Algernonpj, I'm carrying a few extra pounds. I was blaming it on my fondness for chocolate but could it be...?

#3 RE: WHALE OF AN APPETITE Blue whales evolved into giants when ‘climate change turned them into binge eaters’ by algernonpj 24.05.2017 20:41

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Quote: Cincinnatus wrote in post #2
OMG, Algernonpj, I'm carrying a few extra pounds. I was blaming it on my fondness for chocolate but could it be...?


Don't blame the chocolate; the chocolate, it's the result of ANTHROPOMORPHIC GLOBAL WARMING

#4 RE: WHALE OF AN APPETITE Blue whales evolved into giants when ‘climate change turned them into binge eaters’ by PzLdr 24.05.2017 23:36

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I must have evolved in the Sahara Desert...

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