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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Jan 1;90(1):118-22.

Brain weight and life-span in primate species.

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  • 1Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena 91125.

Abstract

In haplorhine primates (tarsiers, monkeys, apes, and humans), there is a significant correlation between brain weight and maximum life-span when the effect of body size is removed. There is also a significant correlation in haplorhine primates between brain weight and female age at first reproduction. For strepsirhine primates (lorises and lemurs), there are no significant correlations between brain weight and either life-span or female reproductive age when the effect of body size is removed. This lack of correlation in strepsirhine primates may be related to the fact that these primates are nocturnal and/or natives of the island of Madagascar, both of which conditions may reduce competition for resources and predation pressure. These findings suggest that in haplorhine primates the genetic systems controlling brain growth are linked to the systems governing the life cycle so that species with longer cycles have larger brains. When the effect of body weight is removed, leaf-eating haplorhines have significantly smaller brains and shorter lives than haplorhines with other diets. Harem-living haplorhines also have significantly smaller brains and shorter life-spans than troop-living haplorhines when the effect of body weight is removed. We also sought to test the rate-of-living hypothesis by determining whether primates with basal metabolic rates that are higher than would be expected for their body size have shorter maximum life-spans than would be expected for their body size. Metabolic rate is not correlated with life-span or female age at first reproduction when the effect of body size is removed.

PMID:
8419913
PMCID:
PMC45611
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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