Gulf coast mollusks rode out past periods of climate change

These Middle Eocene gastropod shells from Texas are just a small sample of the fossils in amateur paleontologist Christopher Garvie’s collection. The study leveraged Garvie’s fossils to study how past periods of climate change impacted mollusks along the Gulf Coast of the United States. Credit: Christopher Garvie

About 55 million years ago, a rapidly warming climate decimated marine communities around the world. But according to new research, it was a different story for snails, clams and other mollusks living in the shallow waters along what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States. They were able to survive.

The findings, published on Feb. 7 in Scientific Reports, suggest that mollusks in the region may adapt yet again to the climate change of today.
“Mollusks are sort of unique in this aspect as they are better adapted to cope with high temperatures,” said lead…

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