“We are formed by our environment, and our environment is formed by us”. Mammals are influenced by climate, changing geography, and plants, and the environment is also influenced by mammals. One example of this is the mammoth, which adapted to its surroundings over time and this eventually led to their demise. The most primitive species of mammoths had fewer ridges on their teeth while more recent species developed more ridges as more abrasive foods became available. Woolly mammoths, related to the Columbian mammoth that we observed at the museum, had long fur to insulate it from the cold since it lived in an ice age. There is speculation that the extinction of woolly mammoths caused human-driven climate change due to changes in vegetation relating to global temperatures. Tree leaves were formed after their extinction which absorb more solar radiation than grass. The history of horses in North America is another example of the environment affecting a species and the species affecting the environment. The Spanish re-established horses in North America in the 1500s after they had gone extinct 8,000 years before. The original North American horses underwent evolution over time as their environment changed, and they grew larger as forests turned into grassy plains. Today, there are concerns about mustangs damaging the biotic crusts of the grasslands, causing erosion that scientists believe will cause the replacement of grasslands with rock. Sometimes, this two-way evolution is not a positive development.
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