Eat­ing fruits led to big­ger, pow­er­ful brain

New Straits Times - - World -

PARIS: Hu­mans likely de­vel­oped large and pow­er­ful brains, re­searchers said on Mon­day, with the help of what is to­day the sim­plest of snacks: fruit.

Eat­ing fruit was a key step up from the most ba­sic of food­stuffs, such as leaves, and pro­vided the en­ergy needed to grow bulkier brains, the sci­en­tists said.

“That’s how we got th­ese huge brains,” said the study’s au­thor Alex De­casien, a re­searcher at New York Univer­sity.

“We have blown up the qual­ity of our food we are eat­ing.”

The study pub­lished in Na­ture Ecol­ogy & Evo­lu­tion looked at the sta­ple foods of more than 140 species of pri­mates, and as­sumed their di­ets haven’t changed much over the course of re­cent evo­lu­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­search, the an­i­mals which feasted on fruit had brains that were about 25 per cent big­ger than those fill­ing their bel­lies with leaves.

De­casien said the chal­lenges of liv­ing in a group could be part of get­ting smarter, but found no link be­tween the com­plex­ity of pri­mates’ so­cial lives and the size of their grey mat­ter.

What did cor­re­late strongly with brain size was eat­ing fruit.

Foods such as fruit con­tain more en­ergy than leaves, thus cre­at­ing the ad­di­tional fuel needed to evolve a big­ger brain.

At the same time, re­mem­ber­ing which plants pro­duce fruit, where they are, and how to break them open could also help a pri­mate grow a big­ger brain. AFP

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