Tropical mammals are evolving faster than those found at high latitudes or elevations, according to a study published online today (June 23) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. This pattern had previously been found in plants and marine protists but until now was assumed to apply only to cold-blooded organisms.
Structure of DNA helix
Image: Richard Wheeler,
Wikimedia Commons
"There's lots of reasons to believe that temperature plays a substantial role in generating [differences in the rate of evolution]," said evolutionary ecologist linkurl:James Brown; of the University of New Mexico, who did not participate in the study. "What's particularly interesting here is that [this same pattern] occurs in mammals, which take their body temperatures with them wherever they go around the world." That means, he said, that "this [difference] can't be a direct effect of temperature per se." In 1799, German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt noticed that...

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