Why does Africa have so many big animals.

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by Shadow1, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member

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    why does africa have so many kinds of big animals, like the big cats, lions, tigers, pumas (the cats family as a hall), also elephants, zebras, girafs, and many many others, wich in some other places, you wan't find this so big divercity of the big animals, so why does africa is so rich, also africa is the humans' origin and luch point as far as we know.
     
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  3. soullust Registered Senior Member

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    Probably because of there Uniquely warm environment, something larger can absorb heat much more efficiently, maybe they evolved large because of that?
     
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  5. christa Frankly, I don't give a dam! Valued Senior Member

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    all I could say when I read the title was because its a big place, and animals can still roam freely around DURH!!! hahahaa! i'm sorry!!
     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Because (sub-Saharan) Africa was the last place to have civilization. As people develop more advanced technology, we get better at killing. The large animals have nowhere to hide, and that never mattered before because their size protected them from most predators.

    There were plenty of species of large animals everywhere. Mammoths, woolly rhinoceros, sabertooth cats, cave bears. We killed 'em off. There are still moose and bison in North America, and lions, tigers and elephants in Asia. Rhinos in Indonesia.
     
  8. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    The extensive grasslands supported grazers, which need to be large to digest cellulose. Therefore, the predators of them are large.
     
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    One factor: The animals in Africa evolved with humans, had time to evolve in step with improving human capabilities, and are uniquely well adapted to resisting human predation. The kinds of genetically and socially endowed reflex behaviors common to African animals (they are very dangerous, for example - even the wild cattle routinely attack humans who get close) are very rare elsewhere. They are also protected by diseases, evolved over millions of years to infect humans.

    Another factor: The wild animals in the northern temperate zone - especially North America - suffered a mass extinction very recently (about ten thousand years ago), and haven't had time to re-evolve. An entire level of size was killed off in North America - we had huge lions and other big cats, elephants bigger than anything in Africa, bears like nothing seen anywhere nowdays, sloths bigger than modern bears, beavers the size of modern deer,

    something like fifty species of large mammal; that vanished suddenly and almost simultaneously, after living through several glacial ages and interstades in the million years prior.

    The two known coincident factors were the arrival of sophisticated humans with thousands of years of accumulated hunting expertise unfamiliar to North American wildlife, and the impact of a large meteorite or collection of them - large enough to kill continent wide - probably in Canada on the glacial field.
     
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    A grazer has a gut that's very large in proportion to its body, in order to hold the bacterial culture that does its digestion. But the animal itself can be of any size. Rabbits are grazers.

    Many of the best-known artiodactyls and perissodactyls--the two classes of hoofed mammals that are predominantly grazers--are not enormous. Goats, sheep, llamas, donkeys, deer, antelope...
     
  11. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    There are indeed small grazers, but rabbits eat their food twice, because their guts aren't as efficient. There is an economy of scale, such as that achieved by elephants.
     
  12. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Many other continents also had and some have large animals living upon them. Asia , for example, still had elephants, tigers and lepords as well as many other varieties of animals. So Africa isn't alone when you want to see divercity of spices, you just have to look atround at all the other places that the Earth has. Even the oceans have the largest animals that exist today, the whales.
     
  13. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member

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    ah, so i get it, first because humans didn't developed a civilsiation their, also, for example in north africa, animals didnt start to get extenct, or killed, intell humans got their, and more, intill europeans got their, so the main cause is human, as for africa, they had the perfect envirement, space, and time, to developed, and adapt with the human behaviors, so i guess that in china, before people go their, or in other places, there was many kinds of mammals and big animals just like in africa. well, that's intressting.

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  14. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member

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    you forgot the giant squid in the deeps, oh, also, millions of years ago, their was an animal, like whale, and he's called the whale eater or something, because it eats whales, and it's about 4 times bigger than the normal whale of today, i'll show you a picture later
     
  15. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member

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    yeah, i think this maked a big difference, so before china even existed, i guess it was just like africa, i mean, it had many big animals.
     
  16. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member

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    lol, ok, no prob. :bugeye:

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  17. River Ape Valued Senior Member

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    For me, the real question is actually "Why are elephants so tiny?"

    Countless species have come and gone in the course of the Cenozoic era and there must have been many ecological niches across so many millions of years and several continents where greatest size conferred the greatest evolutionary advantage. And yet over this entire era there has never been a land animal significantly larger than the present day African Bush Elephant.

    Yet in Jurassic and Cretaceous times there were creatures up to ten times as massive as have evolved subsequently. One assumes their great size arose as a result of greatest size conferring greatest evolutionary advantage (and one assumes this applies also to the Blue Whale today) so has something changed to stop great size being so beneficial, or is Nature not so "design clever" as in previous eras?

    Unless we crack the general problem of the miniaturisation of terrestial species that characterises the Cenozoic era we may not get to the bottom of your question, Shadow1, though I concur with Fraggle's answer that large animals are a natural target for humans.
     
  18. BenTheMan Dr. of Physics, Prof. of Love Valued Senior Member

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    Maybe it has to do with the nutrients in the plants that the animals are eating, or the availability of lots of food and lots of water? Or the sizes of the predators?

    Elephants seem to have evolved on the steppe, where it is in general drier and vegetation is a bit more scarce.

    The large herbivore dinosaurs lived in environments with much more rainfall and greenery, I guess.
     
  19. kmguru Staff Member

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    See the map of Cretaceous Period, you will get the idea

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/dynamic/graphics/Fig2-5globes.gif
     
  20. Dr Mabuse Percipient Thaumaturgist Registered Senior Member

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    Because it is so large, and so little civilization.

    Europe had many large animals, they were made extinct by the settlement and civilizing of the continent.

    The largest mammalian predator on land we know of was on the North American continent. The Short Faced Bear. Many other large animals like Mammoths. Tigers too. Some think a NEO impact took them out, others think man did.

    Africa still has room, and a sparse enough population to sustain them. Even at that most are endangered.
     
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The large contiguous east-west land masses are now, and have been since the age of the dinosaurs, smaller and colder and drier and more broken up by mountains etc

    The warm and wet areas are generally narrow east west, by comparison with the past.

    The atmosphere has less oxygen in it (for animals) and CO2 (for plants), as well.

    The dinos lived on larger (east-west dimension, with common basic climate), more contiguous, warmer, wetter, and better oxygenated land masses.

    Everything animal is smaller in these disrupted and chilled and dried out continental environments - insects, reptiles, amphibians, flying creatures of all kinds, etc. In the ocean, things are as big as they ever were. Likewise among the plants, algae, etc - the sessile creatures. And in the few really large warm wet areas we still have, there are thirty foot snakes, two pound toads, butterflies the size of dinner plates, etc.
     
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    What's your source on that? I've never been able to find out where the ancestral elephant arose. There seem to be fossils of them all over the northern hemisphere.
     

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