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Carbon Monkey Footprint

August 3, 2010

He’s big, he’s ginger, and he’s more evolved than you. No, not Harry Knowles. The orangutan! And yes, I know it’s not a monkey…

Source: The Busy Brain

And he’s more highly evolved when it comes to energy saving. According to a new study, orangs need less food to fuel the same or more level of activities as humans. They require less food from their diet of ripe fruits, nuts, and leaves. From MSNBC:

“They wake up early, after a long night’s sleep,” explained Pontzer, an assistant professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. “Then they spend the day socializing, exploring their indoor or outdoor enclosures. … They also regularly engage in games with researchers.”

Taken together, all of these activities add up to the same level of exercise performed by humans in physically demanding agricultural lifestyles, according to the study, which is published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

I wouldn’t mind being an orangutan. There’s been months where I’ve lived off little more than ramen noodles and pop tarts, and the most I ever achieved was watching every episode of Mythbusters.

“But the trade-off,” he added, “is that low-energy throughput means less energy is available to do things like grow and reproduce. So orangutans grow slowly and reproduce slowly, which is evolutionarily risky because an orangutan might die before it passes on its genes.”

Orangutans in the wild only reproduce every seven to eight years, which isn’t helping increase the endangered orangutan population. All that deforestation and poaching isn’t doing our hairy cousins any good, either.

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