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insulation - speculation

As i sat freezing in my bed a couple of nights ago, i realized why and
when animals may have developed insulation like feathers and fur.

Consider the fact that Pangea comes together in the late Paleozoic,
causing increased continentality.  This leads to much more extreme
temperatures in many areas than during the earlier periods.  For example,
N.Am. had been very tropical during most of the Paleozoic, but with 
the formation of Pangea comes much increased desert over much of the 
continent, esp. in the late Triassic and Jurassic.  If these areas were
home to terrestrial animals, then the increased variety in temperatures
will affect the ectotherms adversely at night.  Obviously, this opens
up a new niche (or many actually) for animals that can hunt at night
exploiting all those semi-dormant ectotherms.  This new animal, however,
would have to contend with much colder temps than his diurnal cousins.
Developing insulation would obviously improve that animal's chance for
success in this new niche.  Perhaps this explains how and when insulation


Bonnie A.B. Blackwell,                          bonn@qcvaxa.acc.qc.edu
Dept of Geology,                                off: (718) 997-3332
Queens College, City University of New York,    fax: (718) 997-3299
Dept of Earth \& Environmental Sciences,        fax: (718) 997-3349
The Graduate Center, CUNY,                      fax: (718) 997-3513
Flushing, NY 11367-1597                         messages: (718) 997-3300