Evolution will take 23 million years to replace the endangered fauna of Madagascar

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists has concluded that it would take nature 23 million years to create the kind of rich biodiversity seen in Madagascar.

This huge number speaks of the uniqueness of the fauna of this island and the need for urgent measures aimed at its conservation.

About 90% of all plant and animal species in Madagascar are found nowhere else on Earth. However, they all face serious challenges caused by the destruction of their habitat and climate change.

Of the 219 known mammal species on this large island, including 109 lemur species, more than 120 are endangered.

In a new study, an international team of scientists estimated how long it would take for new modern mammal species to emerge in Madagascar.

According to their calculations, it would take 23 million years for the formation of the same unique fauna that could replace the existing one.

Madagascar is the fifth largest island in the world, but its biodiversity is more like a mini-continent.

In the 150 million years that have passed since Madagascar broke away from the African mainland, and 80 million years after the divergence from India, its plants and animals have gone their own unique evolutionary path (recall that the dinosaurs died out less than 70 million years ago).

Madagascar’s landscapes range from montane rainforests to lowland deserts, allowing the island’s mammalian inhabitants to separate into different species much faster than their continental relatives did.

To assess the vulnerability of Madagascar species, the researchers created a dataset covering all known mammalian species that have coexisted with humans in Madagascar over the past 2,500 years.

After that, the authors built genetic family trees to find out how long it took them to evolve from various common ancestors.

The scientists then estimated how long it would take now to develop biodiversity that could “replace” all of Madagascar’s endangered mammals in the event of extinction.

According to the study, it will take about three million years to restore the diversity of land mammals that have already become extinct over the past 2,500 years.

In addition, the models suggest that if all of today’s endangered mammals die out, it would take 23 million years to restore a similar level of diversity.

Of course, if we allow all the unique Madagascan species to disappear, nature will not return exactly them after a specified period of time.

What it means is that it takes about 23 million years to reach the same level of evolutionary complexity, whatever these new species may look like.

This is much longer than would be required on other islands such as New Zealand or the Caribbean.

According to scientists, now the biodiversity of Madagascar is going through a turning point, and people still have a chance to save it.

However, they estimate that there is only about five years left to really make progress in the conservation of Madagascar’s nature.

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