Why are rabbits not as big as horses?

Short answer: Because of the horses themselves. As surprising as it may sound, rabbits find themselves in competition with the latter and are clearly at a disadvantage.

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He is 1.29 meters tall and lives in England: Darius is world’s largest rabbit. He is of the Giant of Flanders breed, weighing 10. can reach Kilogram. And when we consider wild rabbits, the size limit is around 5 kg. However, despite their diversity, lagomorphs (which include hares, hares and pikas) have a fairly similar size (usually between 12 and 80 cm). In comparison, mouse which followed more or less a similar development, there are many different sizes, ranging from 4 g for the African pygmy mouse to over 50 kg for the capybara (also known as the big cabea). This is 10 times more than the largest lagomorph in nature.

Rabbits Stop Growing During Their Growth

So what was it that kept rabbits from getting as big as horses? This question is asked by primatologist Susumu Tomiya of Kyoto University in Japan in a study published in February 2021 in the journal. Evolution. « The narrow phenotypic range of wild lagomorphs does not reflect only their limited diversity: their rate of change in body shape has been lower than that of rodents. », insists Susumu Tomiya. In other words, some evolutionary process Rabbits stopped growing. But what?

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Darius is the largest rabbit in the world. © PBS. on nature

rabbit, a horse

Susumu Tomiya and colleagues analyzed the various ecological factors affecting rabbits and reviewed the fossil record of lagomorphs in North America. They then found that the best predictor of the maximum body size of lagomorphs was … the smallest contemporary ungulate. ” can be considered as lagomorphs “miniature ungulates” in relation to their eating and walking behavior, describes Susumu Tomiya. We therefore hypothesized that the evolution of lagomorph size was limited by competition with smaller ungulates because lagomorphs tend to lose their competitive advantage over certain body sizes. ».

To verify this hypothesis, the researchers compared the amounts ofenergy Used by lagomorphs and ungulates relative to their body size. ” We then found that lagomorphs weighing more than 6 kg are energetically disadvantaged compared to ungulates of similar size. “. At equal weight, rabbit Thus spend much more energy than an ungulate. While ungulates and hares shared the same ecological niche, the former took the opportunity to profit and grow to enormous size – the African elephant is the largest land mammal still alive today. .

Rabbits capture rabbits

Even worse, lagomorphs compete with each other when they get too big. ” Large Lagomorph, Kind rabbit, are competitively disadvantaged and are unlikely to coexist stably with lagomorphs such as the small rabbit “, note the researchers. Finally, the digestive system of rabbits means they are not able to diversify their diet to avoid competition with ungulates. Rabbits are primarily leafy, that is, they eat leaves and Feed on stems, where some ungulates may have adopted a frugal diet.

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So, it’s a shame, you’ll probably never see a giant hippopotamus with big ears and you’ll never be able to mount a rabbit to gallop. The fashion for dwarf rabbits is high anyway.

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