Mammalian species of India stable for past 200,000 years: study

Finding has implications for survival of mammalian species in India today

By Vani Manocha
Published: Tuesday 08 April 2014

When researchers studied mammals’ fossils in Billasurgam cave complex of Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh, they found that mammals in this area were likely to have been more tolerant to glacial and volcanic climate changes and human interference than those in many other regions of the globe.

The team found that 20 of 21 identified mammalian taxa from at least 100,000 years ago to the present, and in some cases up to 200,000 years ago still existed. During this time, there has been minor geographical redistribution of the animals, suggesting that the majority of taxa survived or adapted to substantial ecological pressures in fragmented habitats. The findings have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Patrick Roberts of University of Oxford is the lead author of the study.

The results are similar to fossil record trends in southern Asia, but in contrast with higher extinction levels in the Americas, Eurasia, and Australia. The finding has implications for mammalian conservation in India, where increasing ecological circumscription may leave certain taxa increasingly endangered in the most densely populated region of the world.

According to the authors, the long-term survival of mammalian taxa in the Asian tropics may depend on the preservation of interconnected mosaic habitats, and that regional differences in ecological pressures should be considered when investigating causes of extinctions.

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