New York, March 28, 2017: A diet rich in fruits may have been responsible for larger brain size in primates, researchers say.
The findings revealed that primate species whose food consumption had higher amounts of fruit (frugivores) and both fruits and leaves (folivores) exhibited significantly larger brains than those who consumed only leaves.
An addition of animal protein (omnivores) also showed significantly larger brains than in those who consumed only leaves.
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“Fruit is patchier in space and time in the environment, and the consumption of it often involves extraction from difficult-to-reach-places or protective skins,” said lead author Alex DeCasien, doctoral student at New York University in the US.
“Together, these factors may lead to the need for relatively greater cognitive complexity and flexibility in frugivorous species,” DeCasien added.
The study, which appears in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, counters the prevailing theory of social brain hypothesis which says social pressures and the need to think about and track social relationships was the primary driver of primate cognitive complexity and ultimately led to the evolution of the large human brain.
“Complex foraging strategies, social structures, and cognitive abilities are likely to have co-evolved throughout primate evolution,” said DeCasien.
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“However, if the question is which factor, diet or sociality, is more important when it comes to determining the brain size of primate species, then our new examination suggests that the factor is diet.”
In the study, the team examined more than 140 primate species and took into account food consumption — leaves, fruit and addition of animal protein –, as well as several measures of sociality, such as group size, social system and mating system.
Their results showed that brain size is predicted by diet rather than by the various measures of sociality. (IANS)
This flamboyant nine-metre-long dhow, made from 10 tonnes of plastic waste collected from Kenyan beaches and roadsides, sailed more than 500 km from the idyllic island of Lamu to Zanzibar this year with a message to eliminate single-use plastics.
And it also reminds the global policy-makers the urgency to address and lessen the growing impact of plastics on the world’s marine environment.
The Flipflopi dhow was positioned right at the entrance of the conference venue in the UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi where over 4,700 delegates from 170 countries gathered for the week-long UN Environment Assembly, the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment.
“Marine plastic litter pollution is already affecting more than 800 marine species through ingestion, entanglement and habitat change,” UN Environment’s coral reef unit head Jerker Tamelander said.
“Waste continues to leak from land and coral reefs are at the receiving end. They also trap a lot of fishing gear as well as plastic lost from aquaculture. With the impacts of climate change on coral reef ecosystems already significant, the additional threat of plastics must be taken seriously.”
The majority of marine litter – between 60-80 per cent – is composed of plastic.
Only nine per cent of the nine billion tonnes of plastic the world has so far produced has been recycled.
The overwhelming majority of plastics – comprising drinking bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, lids and straws – are designed to be thrown away after a single use, ultimately ending up in landfills and polluting the environment.
“The first leg of the journey is over, but the journey continues,” Kenyan entrepreneur and Flipflopi project leader Dipesh Pabari told reporters here.
“When you are on the boat and you come to know that it’s made from your toothbrushes and Pet bottles. You will ask how and that is the real story,” he said.
Coming from a family of carpenters and dhow builders in Lamu, an island off the North Coast of Kenya, Ali Skanda is intimately familiar with what goes into building a dhow – a sailboat that has been used in East Africa for more than a thousand years.
On its maiden 500-km-long sojourn, supported by the UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign, the Flipflopi stopped at towns and cities to sensitize the communities on ways to cut down use of single-use plastics.
A report, Plastics and Shallow Water Coral Reefs, released at this UN Environment Assembly, which focus on innovative solutions for environmental challenges, identifies a number of knowledge gaps that must be addressed to strengthen the scientific evidence base for action on marine plastics that impact coral reefs.
Inspired by 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, activist Rebecca Freitag, 26, a UN delegate for sustainable development from Germany, told IANS that the youth should be given participation in environment talks as they comprised 25 per cent of the global population.
Before coming to the UN summit, she collected the plastic waste from roadsides of Kenya, which introduced the world’s toughest laws on single-use plastic bags two years ago, and got her dress stitched to spotlight solutions for the growing impact of plastics on the world’s marine environment.
The Flipflopi is now ready for a voyage next month for a greater political and social awareness of the issue of plastic pollution.
“Now we want to build a 20-m long boat that is capable of sailing to South Africa and beyond,” Pabari said.
For this, $1.5 million is required.
The Flipflopi team has had to pioneer new techniques to craft the dhow’s various components.