Friday, April 1, 2011

Longer Pregnancy + Breast-Feeding = Bigger Brains, Longer Life Rea

Advice around breast-feeding can drive new mothers mad, but a new study suggests that the long pregnancies and lactation periods of our prehistoric mamas are responsible for the relatively big brains that differentiate humans from other animals.

By comparing 128 species of mammals, researchers at the University of Durham in England sought to answer this question: do large brains make species live longer by making them smarter in cheating death, or is the longer lifespan of big-brained animals simply the result of the fact that big brains require more care and time to grow?

"We already know that large-brained species develop slowly, mature later and have longer lifespans but what has not always been clear is why brains and life histories are related," said Robert Barton, lead author of the research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in a press release.

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