Big brained wild animals at greater risk of extinction?

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Barbary macaque

Wild animals with bigger brains may be at greater risk of extinction according to a study led by Manuela Gonzales-Suarez of the University of Reading. She said: “We found bigger brains may actually hold mammals back from becoming the most abundant organisms in an area. This may be because bigger brains require more food and other resources, and therefore more space, to sustain them.”

Barbary macaque

Barbary macaque. Image by 9883074 from Pixabay

Comment: it is known that although the brain make up 2% of the human body it burns 20% of the energy consumed. In other words the brain compared to other aspects of animal anatomy takes more energy to run it. The same can be said of animals. As the bigger brain burns more energy the wild animal needs more space in order to find the resources to provide the sustenance and the energy required to feed the brain.

An example provided by the researchers is the Barbary macaque. It is a monkey found in Gibraltar and their brain weighs 95 g. The average population size of this primate is thirty-six individuals per square kilometre. This is three times the area of the siamang, a gibbon species with the same weight and diet but a larger brain at 123 g. This primate has an average population density of fourteen individuals per square kilometre.

Prof Gonzales-Suarez said that the finding is important for conservation because when a species lives in low densities across their distribution they are more likely to become extinct. The exception is the human who has used his intelligence to find ways to improve food production and overcome resource limitations. Although, I have recently written an article about the maximum human population that the planet can sustain. This article focuses on the space required to farm livestock and soya which is leading to deforestation which in turn dramatically harms the planet and the conservation of animal species.

It fits in nicely with this study because you would have to disagree with the professor as humans are not doing such a great job of finding sustainable methods to feed themselves. It is an act of self-destruction in the longterm.


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