Evolution of Island Mammals

Island animals are very different from mainland animals. Island animals are adapted to the typical island environment. They have a different size and eat different things. Elephants and hippopotamuses become dwarfs, but mice, hedgehogs and cavias become giants. Plant-eaters develop higher crowned teeth, so that they can eat tougher plants and live longer before their teeth are completely worn down.
At present, only a few island species live on earth. Most extinct island animals belong to the Pleistocene period; a time during which the sea level dropped and rose again several times related to Ice Ages and the warmer periods inbetween. With every sea level drop, the distance between the island and the mainland becomes shorter and the island itself becomes larger. New species take their chance to colonize the islands. With every sea level rise, the distance between the island and the mainland becomes larger and the island itself becomes smaller. The new colonizers face two alternatives: to die or to adapt.
 

 

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