Larger brain may be considered an asset but it is a liability as far as extinction threat is concerned, says a new study. The researchers add though, that while a large brain in itself may not be a threat to an animal, combined with other factors such as limited food, it increases the challenge for survival.
Earlier research conducted in this field has shown that bigger size of brain enables the animals in solving problems in a changing environment. However, the new research by Eric Abelson and Rodolfo Dirzo at Stanford University finds that brain power is sometimes not enough to help the animal survive. If the conditions are bad, it might actually make them loose precious resources in maintaining the neural capacity.
The researchers say that when conditions are harsh, a brainier animal will always try to find a solution for survival. For example, when the landscape of a particular habitat becomes colder, certain animals may not be naturally enabled to grow thicker fur, but they can build warmer nest or will spend more time in the sun if they are intelligent. But, one trade off to this brain capacity is that the animal will need to eat and add more calories to its body for the energy needed to grow its neural tissues.
Studies were made of hundreds of mammal species for measuring the absolute size of brain in comparison to the size of the body which is termed as relative brain size. Next, the endangerment status of those mammals was determined by Abelson. Based on these the author concluded that the animals with a large relative brain size were more vulnerable to extinction.
“Right now, conservation efforts could benefit from better predictions of which animals might become endangered in the future,” Abelson. “Understanding the role that relative brain size plays in endangerment risk might give us another tool to identify the animals that might face trouble down the road.”
More Related Stories,