Sea Giants and Island Pygmies

Food supply may help decide an animal's natural size on an island or in the ocean.

By Emily Sohn, 00:00 AM September 11, 2006

The natural world is full of extremes. Elephants and whales are huge. Minnows and mice are small.

But it's also possible to find pygmy elephants, enormous rodents, and giant squid. Such surprising size variations have sent scientists scrambling to understand why certain types of animals grow larger or smaller in some places than they do in others.

One place to find animals with unusual sizes is on an island. In such an isolated setting, creatures that are normally small, such as tortoises ...

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