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Let's Get Small

4:52 PM, Feb 23, 2012 • By ZACK MUNSON
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Courtesy of a terrifying report in the New York Times, we now have yet another side effect to worry about as a result of our current period of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change:

Rising seas, killer storms, droughts, extinctions and money wasted on snowblowers are not the only things to worry about on a warming planet. There is also the shrinking issue.

It happened to Sifrhippus, the first horse, 56 million years ago. Sifrhippus shrank from about 12 pounds average weight to about eight and a half pounds as the climate warmed over thousands of years, a team of researchers reported in the journal Science on Thursday.

That’s right: shrinkage. As a dedicated fan of Seinfeld, I’m the first to admit shrinkage can have disastrous consequences (just ask George). Though I have always been under the impression it generally occurred in … uh … colder climates. But I am no scientist, so I defer to the Times and their assortment of expert sources.

Or at least I would, if I hadn’t gotten a few paragraphs in and found this minor detail in the history of the amazing shrinking horse:

They report that the little horse got 30 percent smaller over the first 130,000 years [of a period of warming], and then — as always seems to happen with weight loss — shot back up and got 75 percent bigger over the next 45,000 years.

That’s right! This ancient shrinking horse apparently… got bigger. Hmm. Difficult to explain, I know, and I certainly can’t speak to the science of it. After all, as experts often tell us, a warmer planet will bring severe unpredictability. I will say this, despite the misleading headline and lede, I really hope the Times is right about anthropogenic equine shrinkage: After all, who doesn’t love tiny horses?

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