Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Couch potatoes of the animal kingdom: Orangutans have extremely low rate of energy use

Date:
August 3, 2010
Source:
Washington University in St. Louis
Summary:
Pass the chips and hand over the remote. In a study involving the first-ever daily energy expenditure measurements in apes, researchers have determined that orangutans living in a large indoor/outdoor habitat used less energy, relative to body mass, than nearly any eutherian mammal ever measured, including sedentary humans.

An orangutan relaxing.
Credit: iStockphoto/David Coleman

Pass the chips and hand over the remote.

In a study involving the first-ever daily energy expenditure measurements in apes, a researcher from Washington University in St. Louis and his team have determined that orangutans living in a large indoor/outdoor habitat used less energy, relative to body mass, than nearly any eutherian mammal ever measured, including sedentary humans.

All this despite activity levels similar to orangutans in the wild.

"It's like finding a sloth in your family tree," says Herman Pontzer, PhD, assistant professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences and lead author of the study. "It's remarkably low energy use."

The research is published in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Pontzer and his team spent two weeks studying daily energy expenditure of orangutans in the Great Ape Trust, a 230-acre campus in Des Moines, Iowa.

The study revealed an extremely low rate of energy use not previously observed in primates, but consistent with slow growth and low rate of reproduction in orangutans.

Pontzer suggests this may be an evolutionary response to severe food shortages in the orangutan's native Southeast Asian rainforests. The rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra are highly random environments that often experience crashes in the availability of ripe fruit, the food on which orangutans depend.

The study suggests that orangutans have adapted over time by becoming consummate low-energy specialists, decreasing their daily energy needs to avoid starvation in food-poor times.

Pontzer thinks this research also may shed light on the evolved energy use of other primates, as well as human foragers. He plans to expand the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. The original article was written by Neil Schoenherr. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Herman Pontzer, David A. Raichlen, Robert W. Shumaker, Cara Ocobock, Serge A. Wich. Metabolic adaptation for low energy throughput in orangutans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1001031107

Cite This Page:

Washington University in St. Louis. "Couch potatoes of the animal kingdom: Orangutans have extremely low rate of energy use." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803112821.htm>.
Washington University in St. Louis. (2010, August 3). Couch potatoes of the animal kingdom: Orangutans have extremely low rate of energy use. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803112821.htm
Washington University in St. Louis. "Couch potatoes of the animal kingdom: Orangutans have extremely low rate of energy use." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803112821.htm (accessed July 27, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A U.S. doctor has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, as the worst-ever outbreak continues to grow. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins