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Secret of Scotland's Shrinking Sheep Solved

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posted on Jul, 4 2009 @ 05:36 PM
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Call it the case of the shrinking sheep. On the remote Scottish island of Hirta, sheep have been getting smaller, shrinking an average of 5% over the last 24 years. Don't blame evolution, though. Researchers say climate change is the real culprit.

The Hirta sheep belong to a breed known as Soay, after the remote Scottish island where they arose. One of the most primitive forms of domestic sheep, Soays first came to Hirta in 1932. Because Hirta is a remote island, its sheep have remained genetically isolated, and no other sheep have been brought in for breeding. That's made Hirta's Soays ideal subjects for scientific study.

In 2007, scientists first reported that the sheep were smaller than they had been in the past. This prompted biologist Arpat Ozgul of Imperial College London and colleagues to analyze body weight data going back 24 years. The researchers confirmed that the Soays had indeed been getting smaller. And, as they report online today in Science, the reason appears to be climate change.


sciencenow.sciencemag.org...




posted on Jul, 4 2009 @ 05:48 PM
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maybe thats what happened to the japanese when see level rose up and isolated them on the island. i think it also was the case with some tribal populations in south east asians islands who are smaller in average.

I dont think climate has anything to do with it but rather genetics. similar genetic backgrounds create smaller offsprings, while different backgrounds create bigger offsprings (see liger for ex).



posted on Jul, 4 2009 @ 05:54 PM
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reply to post by townio
 




I dont think climate has anything to do with it but rather genetics.


Yeah, I would agree with that. I can't see why climate change would have this kind of an effect. Climate change is possibly a cause, but I highly doubt it is the full diagnosis.



posted on Jul, 4 2009 @ 05:58 PM
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I WOULD PAY BIG MONEY TO SEE AL GORE'S HAND UP A SHEEPS BUTT CLAIMING IT WAS SMALLER BECAUSE OF GLOBAL WARMING!


I would pay BIG BUCKS!



posted on Jul, 4 2009 @ 07:02 PM
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reply to post by Scooby Doo
 


Remember when they found the Hobbit and the little dwarf elephants? On an island!


The team suggests that the hobbit became a dwarf after its Homo erectus ancestor became isolated on the large island of Madagascar many years ago.
Link

[edit on 4-7-2009 by Pamie]



posted on Jul, 5 2009 @ 10:58 AM
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Originally posted by Scooby Doo
reply to post by townio
 




I dont think climate has anything to do with it but rather genetics.


Yeah, I would agree with that. I can't see why climate change would have this kind of an effect. Climate change is possibly a cause, but I highly doubt it is the full diagnosis.


The genetics over time, could be effected by the climate...

Remember the age difference in animals compared to humans.....


Change in humans would be crazy in only 24 years....Thats roughly one generation....

But 24 years in sheep years is a bit more so that 24 years would be over a hundred years or so ( not sure the exact number ) and so a change would be occuring over a century of sheep lives....


Makes sense? just my opinion though.

Kind of crazy how that happens though...



posted on Jul, 5 2009 @ 11:07 AM
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I was under the impression that things that are born and raised on islands are smaller. Even humans. You are in a smaller environment, so in order to adapt to predators, you become smaller in order to get more easily lost amongst foliage/background.

It's funny because this seems like two branches of science conflicting with one another...

Evolution and Climate Change.



posted on Jul, 5 2009 @ 11:32 AM
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Hello, another effect to add to this clip on Youtube that "Global Warming" aka "Climate Change" has caused.
www.youtube.com...
Smaller lamb chops, same price, will be the result here. Global warming, cooling, changing, whatever it is they need to call it now, has even killed the Loch Ness monster. Maybe he just wasted away. They just keep pushing this propaganda into our faces, whilst sliding the hand into the pocket. Every little bit helps to push the illusion.



posted on Jul, 6 2009 @ 01:11 AM
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reply to post by Scopeless
 




I was under the impression that things that are born and raised on islands are smaller.


That can be right because a lot of factors can implement the growth of an animal, or, human for that matter. This can include the environment the evolve from.



posted on Jul, 6 2009 @ 08:26 AM
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reply to post by Scooby Doo
 


...

Sheep eat no matter what.

Longer summers mean they should be getting fatter, not smaller. A sheep cannot foresee a cold or warm winter. It can only know by instinct that winter is coming and it needs to prepare. As such, they would simply eat more, not less.

This is really not valid science. Animals do not eat less in longer summers. They eat just as much, if not more.

Where I live, the calmer summers have encouraged birds not to migrate, but instead, stay and raise a second batch of eggs. They eat just as much, and because they have a second batch, they eat more for the new young.



posted on Jul, 6 2009 @ 09:32 AM
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A reduction in size can usually be attributed to cold climates (ehh boys
)

Seriously though... the smaller the body mass, the less energy is required to keep it warm... and reach extremities without cooling. Add to this, a limited amount of food/energy sources (such as on an island).

Limited energy to stay warm/alive and assurances to the continuation of a species goes much further if the species is small in this instance.

In short, it's the weather and the island combined.

IRM



posted on Jul, 6 2009 @ 09:35 AM
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let me see, they have an isolated population of (conjecture, but bear with me) genetically similar sheep, which appears to shrink.

a few questions immediately arise: did median age change over time? what about their numbers, how much grazing for how long, etc. What about inbreeding depression?? these issues have to be adressed, among many others.


finally, their sample size is what? one island. yeah, it's climate change, i guess if you grew fatter it'd be global warming, too. iow, a totally transparent PR piece.



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