Here's a novel weight loss tip: Live on a planet whose global warming trend is so severe that you need to shrink in order to adapt. Oh, and it helps to be an insect, spider, plant, or marine creature. (Or a sheep. Evidently we already knew sheep were shrinking.) If you can manage that, you could be on your way to losing up to 22 percent of your body size, just from climate change!
That's the finding of biology professor David Bickford, who found that increasing temperatures and limited water have made a number of plants and critters shrink in size.
Bickford and colleague Jennifer Sheridan trawled through fossil records and dozens of studies which showed that many species of plants and creatures such as spiders, beetles, bees, ants and cicadas have shrunk over time in relation to climate change.
They cited an experiment showing how shoots and fruit are 3 to 17 percent smaller for every degree Celsius of warming in a variety of plants.
Each degree of warming also reduces by 0.5 to 4 percent the body size of marine invertebrates and 6 to 22 percent of fish.
The worry here is that crops and other food resources shrink in size, meaning that there's less to go around — if each plant or fruit is smaller, you get less food out of the same acreage, for instance. The researchers are also concerned about the impact on biodiversity and ecosystems. Meanwhile, most of Hollywood is just turning up the settings on their tanning beds.