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 23, 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 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. 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