Shrinking Human Clickbait?June 16, 2022
Hmmm, interesting. In the context of what seems to be the promotion of a new book on mammals, professor Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh lists several all too well-known examples related to the phenomenon of shrinking as a survival mechanism when temperatures rise quickly. He mentions the shrinking horses during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, he talks about H. floresiensis, the red deer on the island of Cyprus, as well as Bergmann’s rule. Professor Brusatta then raises the question if our current rising temperatures could end up dwarfing humans. Perhaps, but is Brusatte really interested in this possibility or is he using the prospect of shrinking people as clickbait to sell his new book? He doesn’t mention people until the very last pages.
Of course we could ignore this relatively harmless trick to create interest. If anything, more people should know about the advantages of the smaller body and the possibilities of mammals, including humans, to size shift, and the book’s success might help to that effect. On the other hand it is important not to inflate the idea of shrinking with superficial marketing appeal. If this is all just about curiosity and freak power but not about substance and purpose then there’s a chance that the idea of shrinking will be reduced to just another quirky speculation rather than a real possibility. It’s better not over-used, and certainly not for marketing purposes unless it adds to the real desire to shrink rather than the desire to buy (or sell) a book. However, and yes paradoxically, this post now also turns into a book promotion because we did get the book (we quite liked his book on the Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs).