The brain is one complex organ full of mysteries. To understand it better, scientists pursued to rewind the evolutionary path of it through centuries. This is how they came upon a new lead in the case of the brain evolution. It seems that the cerebral development in primates was triggered by a fruit diet rather than social interaction as it was previously thought.
Scientists Analyzed 140 Non-Human Species for their Paper
Over the years, the scientific world believed that the evolution of large brain among primates was a side effect of social pressure. Each member needed both to adapt to the conventions of their community and to come up with new ways to increase the safety and security of their group. However, this old theory might have just been shattered to pieces in the face of new research.
Alex DeCasien at the New York University together with his colleagues has just published a new study in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. Their work relied on the analysis of more than 140 non-human species of primates. Their main focus was to understand whether large brain evolution was initiated by social pressure or dietary choices. The social factor included elements such as location in the evolutionary tree, body size, and the social system that dictated the community.
Fruit Diet Increased the Primates’ Brain Tissue 25% than Leaf Diet
One of the findings of the scientific paper was that the attribute of primates of being capable of a more complex social community than other species has nothing to do with neurological evolution. However, they found evidence that this development and diet are somehow connected.
According to the research, primates with fruit diet have 25% more brain material than those primates that consume tree leaves. Moreover, the two groups had same body sizes so as not to have biased measurements. Omnivores had the same brain complexity as fruit eaters. The lead author of the study explains this situation as the influence of energy ratio that different diets offer.
“[Fruit] is higher quality, it is more nutrient dense, it requires less digesting time than the leaves.”
The way primates are getting ready their meal is another important factor in their neurological development. For instance, they need to remember the good spots that are rich in fruits, how to return to their favorite locations, and when it is the right time to pluck ripe aliments. All these tasks require brain power. Through exercising their mind out of necessity, they unconsciously trained their brain to the next level.
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