Animals Are Changing Shape to Cope With Rising Temperatures

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A thermal image shows a parrot releasing heat through its beak and talons. Researchers have found that since 1871 some parrots have increased their beak area up to 10 percent. Global warming is reshaping our planet. It intensifies hurricanes, causes more fires and dries up rivers. Now, scientists are finding that climate change is also turning animals into shape-shifters. Many creatures are changing the sizes and shapes of certain body parts. Some are growing bigger wings, some are sprouting longer ears and others are growing larger bills. These changes aren’t happening at random, scientists say. Animals are undergoing them to better regulate their body temperatures—basically to cool off. A group of scientists at Deakin University in Australia, along with collaborators at Brock University in Canada, have traced how about 30 species changed across various timeframes in response to rising temperatures. In their work, they combed through nearly 100 previous studies by other researchers, some based on field work, some on laboratory experiments and others on vast museum collections that preserved, catalogued and measured animal specimens for decades. The researchers tracked comparisons that date back a century or two in some cases. They and published their findings in the journal […]

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