Primates Developed Bigger Brains By Eating Fruits

Posted: Mar 28 2017, 1:02pm CDT | by , Updated: Mar 28 2017, 1:40pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Primates Have Big Brains due to Fruits
Brain size in primates is predicted by diet, an analysis by a team of NYU anthropologists indicates. Above, a chimpanzee eating fruit. Credit: Getty Images
  • Fruit Diet is Responsible for the Bigger Brains of Primates

Apparently, diet factors may be responsible for the relatively bigger brains of primates.

It looks like brain size is determined by diet in primates. This puts to the test such past theories like the “social brain hypothesis”. This maintained that human beings and their cousins on the primate evolutionary timeline became “brainier” due to their social lives.

The latest finding was published in a journal. Both human and primate brain evolution could have feeding behavior behind it as a major driving factor.

Thus we learn that socialization is not the be-all-and-end-all of brain size. Social pressure did not play such a big role in brain development and growth through time.

It appears to be the case that complicated methods of finding food, social communities and cognitive capabilities may have all evolved together to make for a brainiac sort of species like mankind.

Yet if the factors are weighed in the balance and an answer is sought as to which one of them mattered the most, diet would beat social life hands down.

No doubt, complexity had a role to play in the equation. Yet social pressures were not the only variable. Besides, the studies on the matter have turned up conflicting results.

The social brain hypothesis seems to have been a blind alley of sorts that has led the scientists nowhere. 140 primate species were studied. This is three times the number of primates that were previously placed beneath the researchers’ observational analysis.

There were leaf-eaters, fruit-eaters, a mixture of the two and finally omnivores. Brain size was clearly dictated by diet. Period. This was after controlling for various factors. The fruit-eaters had the biggest brains followed by those primates that ate a mixture of leaves and fruits.

Foraging for fruit is a complex task and this obstacle course of sorts may lead to more advanced brains among certain primates. Such a species also tends to show greater flexibility in its cognitive strategies.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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