DOI: 10.1101/513051Jan 11, 2019Paper

Maternal investment, life histories, and the evolution of brain structure in primates

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Lauren E PowellRobert A Barton


Life history is a robust correlate of relative brain size: large-brained mammals and birds have slower life histories and longer lifespans than smaller-brained species. One influential adaptive hypothesis to account for this finding is the Cognitive Buffer Hypothesis (CBH). The CBH proposes that large brains permit greater behavioural flexibility and thereby buffer the animal from unpredictable environmental challenges, allowing reduced mortality and increased lifespan. In contrast, the Developmental Costs Hypothesis (DCH) suggests that life-history correlates of brain size reflect the extension of maturational processes needed to accommodate the evolution of large brains. The hypotheses are not mutually exclusive, but do make different predictions. Here we test novel predictions of the hypotheses in primates: examining how the volume of brain components with different developmental trajectories correlate with relevant phases of maternal investment, juvenile period and post-maturational lifespan. Consistent with the DCH, structures with different allocations of growth to pre-natal versus post-natal development exhibit predictably divergent correlations with the associated periods of maternal investment and pre-maturational life...Continue Reading

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