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The size of the brain and fertility in a mammal can depend on who care about the offspring


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The evolution of a higher brain size in descendants is related to the amount of paternity care in a mammal, while greater fertility in mothers is associated with additional support for the care of individuals who are not biological parents of descendants (alloparents), according to a study published in the Journal Behavioral Ecologi and Sociobiologi.

Researchers at the University of Zurich have studied the possible effects of energy inputs of different donors on brain size and fertility of different species, comparing data on 478 types of mammals, including lions, mice, mercat and monkeys and monkeys. The species data included information on behavior in terms of care, brain size and fertility.

The author of the study, Sandra Heldstab, said: "Both reproduction and brain tissue are energy-intensive, and one way to reduce women's costs is to distribute costs through other individuals by sharing the burden of care. Unlike the previous study, distinguished paternity and aloparental care because we expected there was a difference between how reliable they were and how they could affect the size of the brain and fertility.

The authors have based their assumptions on a complex brain hypothesis, which predicts that increased brain size develops only if the increase in additional energy is available to women, from help in the care of offspring, predictable and constant.

Dr. Sandra Heldstab said: "The care for the father is reliable and stable, therefore we expect it to be related to the size of the brain. Additional care from individuals who are not parents of parents often vary as they adjust their efforts of care depending on both foods. This unpredictable type of care does not it provides enough stable energy to affect the brain's size, but our findings suggest that the additional energy they provide is associated with a significant increase in fertility, as women react easily through litter adjusting the size of the variable amounts of energy and times. "

The researchers linked their findings with the evolution of the human brain. People differ from other mammals because they have a very big brain – the largest in terms of body size in the whole animal kingdom – and a relatively high reproductive effect, which can be explained by the unusual form of multiple family cohort, which includes stable and reliable care and parents, and parents.

There is no need to lower the intestine to have a bigger brain

More information:
Sandra A. Heldstab et al. All-mental care, brain and fertility in mammals: who cares about things, Behavioral Ecologi and Sociobiologi (2019). DOI: 10.1007 / s00265-019-2684-k

The size of the brain and fertility in a mammal can depend on who care for offspring (2019, May 30)
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