Friday August 23, 2019

Fruits responsible for larger Brain size in Primates: Researchers

The findings revealed that primate species whose food consumption had higher amounts of fruit (frugivores) and both fruits and leaves (folivores)

Gigantopithecus, Wikimedia

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)


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Conflict and Climate Change Largely Responsible for Rising Global Hunger, Finds Study

Climate change it says is worsening the ability of people to get enough to eat

global hunger
Somalis fleeing hunger in their drought-stricken nation walk along the main road leading from the Somalian border to the refugee camps around Dadaab, Kenya. VOA

A new report by SIPRI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, finds conflict and climate change are largely responsible for rising global hunger.

More than 800 million people around the world are going hungry. SIPRI reports 60% are in conflict-affected countries. It says political instability and conflict-related displacement generate food crises.

The Stockholm research institute says food is often inaccessible to people caught in conflict. It says limited supplies of these commodities cause prices to spiral, making food largely unaffordable.

hunger, climate change
The report finds nearly 11 million people, or more than 43 percent of the population, are undernourished and in a perpetual state of hunger. Pixabay

Climate change it says is worsening the ability of people to get enough to eat. It says hunger is growing as crops and livelihoods in impoverished countries are wiped out by extreme flooding and drought.

The U.N.’s World Food Program reports Yemen suffered the worst food crisis last year, followed in order of severity by DR Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan and northern Nigeria. WFP spokesman, Herve Verhoosel says these eight countries account for two-thirds of all people facing acute hunger.

“Even in conflict-affected areas with limited access such as South Sudan and Yemen, when we can do our job safely and have consistent access to people in need, we can prevent the worst forms of hunger,” he said. “We only see famine now when our staff are not able to reach the food-insecure people due to insecurity or where our access is blocked.”

climate change, hunger
Climate change it says is worsening the ability of people to get enough to eat. Pixabay

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Verhoosel says more than 113 million people in 53 countries suffer from acute hunger and are in urgent need of food, nutrition and livelihood assistance. He notes conflict and insecurity are the main drivers of hunger in 21 of these countries.

WFP is the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger. Each year it provides food assistance to nearly 90 million people in areas affected by conflict and natural disasters. (VOA)