Speed Limits on the Evolution of Enormousness

Author: Brandon Keim

If you’ve ever wondered whether mammalian evolution has a speed limit, here’s a number for you: 24 million.

That’s how many generations a new study estimates it would take to go from mouse- to elephant-sized while operating on land at the maximum velocity of change. The figure underscores just how special a trait sheer bigness can be.

“Big animals represent the accumulation of evolutionary change, and change takes time,” said evolutionary biologist Alistair Evans of Australia’s Monash University.

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