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Giants among us: Paper explores evolution of the world’s largest mammals
Date:11/25/2010

Athens, Ga. The largest mammal that ever walked the earthIndricotherium transouralicum, a hornless rhinoceros-like herbivore that weighed approximately seventeen tons and stood about eighteen feet high at the shoulderlived in Eurasia almost 34

Athens, Ga. The largest mammal that ever walked the earthIndricotherium transouralicum, a hornless rhinoceros-like herbivore that weighed approximately seventeen tons and stood about eighteen feet high at the shoulderlived in Eurasia almost 34 million years ago. In a paper just published in the journal Science, an international team of researchers has compiled and analyzed an enormous database of information about the largest mammals across time and around the globe, revealing striking patterns in their evolution.

The research, funded by a National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network grant, was led by scientists at the University of New Mexico, who brought together paleontologists, evolutionary biologists and macroecologists from universities around the world. University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology dean John Gittleman and postdoctoral researcher Patrick Stephens were among them.

"We were invited to participate because the group wanted to take an explicitly evolutionary approach to size," said Gittleman, whose research focuses on large-scale ecological and evolutionary problems, from disease to extinction to organism characteristics.

"John and Patrick were indispensable members of our team," said Felisa Smith, associate professor of biology at the University of New Mexico and the paper's lead author. "This really was a project that took all of us to accomplish."

The goal of the research was to revisit key questions about size, specifically in mammals. "Size impacts everything, from reproduction to extinction," said Gittleman. "And mammals are a good test case. There is so much variationeverything from mice to elephantsand there is also far more dat
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Contact: John Gittleman
ecohead@uga.edu
706-542-2968
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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