Tuesday, October 24, 2006

 

Study Suggests Evolutionary Link Between Diet, Brain Size in Orangutans

In a study of orangutans living on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra, scientists from Duke University and the University of Zurich have found what they say is the first demonstration in primates of an evolutionary connection between available food supplies and brain size.

Based on their comparative study, the scientists say orangutans confined to part of Borneo where food supplies are frequently depleted may have evolved through the process of natural selection comparatively smaller brains than orangs inhabiting the more bounteous Sumatra.

The findings "suggest that temporary, unavoidable food scarcity may select for a decrease in brain size, perhaps accompanied by only small or subtle decreases in body size," said Andrea Taylor and Carel van Schaik in a report now online in the Journal of Human Evolution. [Science, Anthropology, Indonesia]

Continued at "Study Suggests Evolutionary Link Between Diet, Brain Size in Orangutans"
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Based on the paper "Variation in brain size and ecology in Pongo"

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