Parrots are known for their amazing cognitive abilities and long lives. Now, research led by researchers Max Planck has shown that some of these traits are created by others. Looking at 217 parrot species, the researchers showed that species such as the red macaw and the sulfur-crested cockatoo have a very long average lifespan, up to 30 years, the most common. to large birds only. In addition, they revealed the main reason for these long lifetimes: increased brain damage. The study is the first to show a link between brain size and the survival of parrots, showing that increased intelligence can help parrots ward off threats. to their environment and enjoy long lives.
Although parrots are known for their longevity and complexity, with the same lifespan and brain size as primates, it is not known if the two species influenced each other.
“The problem is getting good data,” said Simeon Smeele, a medical student at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior (MPI-AB) and lead author on the research, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Understanding what led to the parrot’s longevity can be compared to living parrots. “Life history simulation studies need a lot of examples to provide credibility, because there are many processes that play out at the same time and this works in different ways,” Smeele said.
To increase the size of the sample, scientists from MPI-AB and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EvA) teamed up with Species360, pulling animal records from zoos and in the aquarium. They collected data from about 130,000 parrots raised from more than 1,000 zoos. This data allowed the team to obtain preliminary reliable estimates of the average survival of 217 parrot species – representing more than half of the observed species.
The report showed a surprisingly different life expectancy, from an average of two years for a parrot fig to an average of 30 years for a red macaw. The other long-lived species is the sulfur-crested cockatoo from Australia, which lives an average of 25 years.
“The 30-year-old’s average is very few birds of this size,” said Smeele who worked with Lucy Aplin from MPI-AB and Mary Brooke McElreath from MPI-EvA on the study. “Some people have a life expectancy of more than 80 years, which is an honorable year for a person.
Next, the team used a large -scale comparative analysis to determine if parrots had a perceived cognitive ability over their length. They looked at two hypotheses: First, having a large brain could lead to longevity. That is, intelligent birds can solve problems in the forest well, so they can enjoy long lives. Second, the cerebral hemispheres take longer to develop and therefore need to live longer. For each method, they collected data about brain size, body weight, and changes.
They then combined the data and ran examples for each hypothesis, looking at the model that best describes the data. Their results provide primary support to increase brain size that can lead to longevity in parrots. Because the size of the brain relative to body size can be a hallmark of intelligence, evidence suggests that parrots with large brains may be able to deal with problems in life. in the forest that could kill them, and this knowledge could live a long time. .ola.
“This supports the idea in a broader sense to make things simpler so that they can last a long time,” Smeele said. “For example, if they run out of favorite foods, they can learn to find something new and survive.”
Scientists are surprised that things like diet, or the amount of time it takes to develop a large brain, do not lead to a longer life span. “We thought the developmental pathway was more important because in primates this developmental value explains the link between brain size and length,” Smeele said.
In the future, the group plans to find out if social and cultural education has helped parrots live longer. According to Smeele, “Great -brained birds may take longer to learn the basics of food production that have been around for generations. Now it’s time to expand and explain how long they live, because because it’s more time consuming but more flexible in the foraging repertoire… ”
“One thing we admire about humans is the amount of skills that the public has learned. We’re very excited to see if tall parrots have a ‘young’ where they can learn things. from finding and unlocking nuts to avoid resentment Finally, we want to make sure that evolutionary drivers make a difference with living history like our ancestors. . ”
It is better at self -defense than macaws
Simeon Q. Smeele et al. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1098 / rspb.2021.2397
Presented by Max Planck Society
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