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Cows could end up as world's largest mammals


Posted on Saturday, 21 April, 2018 | Comment icon 27 comments

Large mammals have been disappearing for a long time. Image Credit: CC BY 2.5 Public Library of Science
Scientists have warned that cows could eventually become the largest remaining mammals on Earth.
In a new study, University of New Mexico biologist Felisa Smith and colleagues outlined the possibility of a future in which all mammals larger than a cow will have gone extinct due to human activities.

"The only time being big is bad is when humans are involved," she said. "We are efficient predators and have been for a really long time, so there's not a value judgment here, it's just what hominids did."

The extinction of larger mammals is a pattern that has been continuing for thousands of years with numerous large mammal species, such as the woolly mammoth, falling by the wayside.

Today, the largest land mammal is the elephant and this, too, is at risk of disappearing.

"There is a very clear pattern of size-biased extinction that follows the migration of hominims out of Africa," said Smith.

The study found that around 125,000 years ago, mammals in human-populated regions of the world were already 50 percent smaller on average than those in areas that mankind hadn't reached yet.

"We suspect this means that archaic humans and other hominins had already influenced mammal diversity and body size," said study co-author Kate Lyons.

Source: Independent | Comments (27)

Tags: Cows

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #18 Posted by Saru on 22 April, 2018, 17:26
86% of those surveyed in China supported a ban on ivory trading in an effort to save the elephants: https://www.worldwildlife.org/press-releases/consumers-in-china-widely-support-upcoming-ivory-ban-but-awareness-is-low-largest-ever-ivory-consumer-survey-finds# That's another 20% of the world's population. Need I continue ?
Comment icon #19 Posted by Black Monk on 22 April, 2018, 17:44
The Chinese are people who still keep animals in captivity to provide entertainment and keep dogs and cats in tiny little cages in markets. I don't think they've suddenly become as concerned about animal welfare as that biased poll makes them out to be. I rather suspect that if elephants suddenly disappeared completely, the vast majority of China's 1.4 billion inhabitants and the world's 7.6 billion inhabitants wouldn't give two hoots. Most people have far more pressing concerns.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Saru on 22 April, 2018, 18:21
What you mean is that you wouldn't give two hoots. I'm sure the vast majority of people will be conscious of such a loss, one way or another.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Likely Guy on 22 April, 2018, 18:38
As you say you "speak for most people" I'm sure that you must be able to supply a link to a study or poll that would confirm your assertion.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Sameerr on 23 April, 2018, 17:25
That is sad. (  The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book ? ~ David Attenborough )
Comment icon #23 Posted by MySummerJob on 9 May, 2018, 20:34
I thought this was going to be a light-hearted topic saying that cows were evolving into something huge... However, this reality (like always) is just depressing.
Comment icon #24 Posted by RabidMongoose on 9 May, 2018, 20:38
I`m sorry but a warning is in order and you should be ashamed of yourself. I expect the largest animal I ever eat a burger from to come from a cloned mammoth not a gigantic bovine. I want my mammoth burger!
Comment icon #25 Posted by Hammerclaw on 10 May, 2018, 3:33
That could be kind of scary.                                                                      
Comment icon #26 Posted by jmccr8 on 11 May, 2018, 5:07
You had me going there for a minute, I thought I would have to get a bigger pail and use a step ladder. jmccr8
Comment icon #27 Posted by Tom the Photon on 16 May, 2018, 13:43
Same here - I imagined science had found a way to breed them bigger and bigger to solve world-hunger with stakes and beefburgers.  Or - given the amount of methane they produce daily - stick a cork up their bums and watch them inflate to elephant size. This is more akin to vandalism - smash up your neighbours cars until you can boast "mine's the fastest car on our street".  We humans have wreaked so much damage to nature and the planet that the least we can do is stop killing off entire species for no good reason.  (Even mosquitoes serve an important role in food chains.)  I've never seen a bl... [More]


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