Primates, including humans, burn half as many calories as other mammals


The study suggests that our remarkably slow metabolisms explain why humans and other primates grow up so slowly and live such long lives.

A study published January 14, 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that humans and other primates burn 50% fewer calories each day than other mammals of similar size. This slow metabolism, the researchers say, may help explain why humans and other primates grow up slower and live longer than most mammals.

An international team of scientists examined 17 primate species in zoos, sanctuaries and in the wild. Using a safe and non-invasive technique, they measured the number of calories the primates burned over a 10-day period. Herman Pontzer,Associate Professor of Anthropology at Hunter College, led the study. Pontzer said:

The results were a real surprise. Humans, chimpanzees, baboons and other primates expend only half the calories we’d expect for a mammal.

Written By: EarthSky
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    • In reply to #1 by NearlyNakedApe:

      So does that imply that the less we exercise, the longer we live? Woohoo!! EarthSky just gave me the perfect excuse for being a couch potato.

      Wouldn’t the argument work in reverse? If humans burn calories at a slower rate, then we must also take longer to burn off excess fat. Being a couch potato when you’ve already got a slow metabolism would put you on the fast track to obesity, which can’t do wonders for your lifespan.

  1. This may be an adaptation to a low food availability environment, where burning calories at a lower rate is advantageous. Unfortunately this becomes maladaptive in a high food availability environment today, with food that is rich in sugar and calories typical of diets in the developed world, resulting in the obesity problems that we have.

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