Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A childhood dilemma: Growth or Play

17.08.2015

Primates that play, grow slower but benefit later in life

Frolicking, wrestling, climbing, jumping – Playing is a lot of fun and promotes development but is also very strenuous. Behavioral biologists therefore suspect that animals only play intensively if they have surplus energy at their disposal or if playing brings about vital advantages.


Wild Assamese macaque infants inspecting a knee at the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary in northeastern Thailand.

Photo: Andreas Berghänel

Scientists led by Julia Ostner from the University of Göttingen and the German Primate Center - Leibniz Institute for Primate Research investigated this in young Assamese macaques in their natural habitat in Thailand. They found that those animals that play a lot grow more slowly than their less active conspecifics. However, during play they learn motoric skills that are vital for fight and flight. Thus, it depends on the respective conditions whether faster growth or more play is the right choice (Science Advances, 2015).

Active play promotes motoric development but at the same time it uses a lot of energy, which is required for an unimpeded growth process. Evolutionary biologists examining play behavior in animals are faced with a Darwinian paradox: Most definitions of play behavior include that the behavior does not serve any immediate purpose and is not assignable to an obvious function.

Any behavior that generates costs but no benefits should disappear through natural selection. The prevalence of play behavior in the animal kingdom was therefore explained by the notion that it produces indirect or long-term benefits but occurs only when the animals have sufficient energy available: Playing promotes the motoric, cognitive and social development and only takes place when the animals are healthy, well fed and safe. "Our findings on Assamese macaques contradict this notion", says Andreas Berghänel, first author of the published study.

Young Assamese macaques, who spend a lot of time wrestling and romping in the jungles of Thailand, grow more slowly than their less playful conspecifics. "Thus, unconstrained development does not appear to be more important than play, young monkeys overexert themselves so much by playing that they cannot keep up with the growth process,” says Julia Ostner, head of the study.

The more playful monkeys thereby risk maturing later and having fewer offspring. However, there is also a clear benefit: The more time an infant spent playing intensely before acquiring a new motoric skill, the earlier in life it masters this motoric task. A faster motoric development is very beneficial if one is involved in fights or must flee from enemies. "Thus, my recommendation to parents: send your kids out to play and feed them a good dinner afterwards to make them grow tall and smart", says Julia Ostner.

Since 2014 Julia Ostner is Professor and Head of Department at the Johann-Friedrich-Blumenbach Institute for Zoology and Anthropology at the University of Göttingen. In addition, she heads the Research Group Social Evolution in Primates at the German Primate Center - Leibniz Institute for Primate Research since 2015. Julia Ostner studies the behavior of Assamese macaques at a research station in Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand. Since 2014, the research station is financed by the German Primate Center.

Original Publication

Andreas Berghänel, Oliver Schülke, Julia Ostner (2015): Locomotor play drives motor skill acquisition at the expense of growth: a life history trade-off. Science Advances. http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/7/e1500451

Contact

Prof. Dr. Julia Ostner
Behavioral Ecology, Johann-Friedrich-Blumenbach Institute for Zoology and Anthropology at the University of Göttingen and Research Group Social Evolution in Primates, German Primate Center
Phone: +49 551 39-33925
Email: jostner@gwdg.de

Dr. Sylvia Siersleben (PR)
Phone: +49 551 3851-163
Email: ssiersleben@dpz.eu

Printable pictures and videos are available in our media database. We kindly request a specimen copy in case of publication.

The German Primate Center (DPZ) – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research conducts biological and biomedical research on and with primates in the fields of infection research, neuroscience and primate biology. The DPZ maintains three field stations in the tropics and is the reference and service center for all aspects of primate research. The DPZ is one of 89 research and infrastructure facilities of the Leibniz Association.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.dpz.eu/de/startseite.html - Website of the German Primate Center
http://medien.dpz.eu/webgate/keyword.html?currentContainerId=2861 - Media database
http://www.dpz.eu/en/unit/social-evolution-in-primates/about-us.html - Research group Social Evolution in Primates
http://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/153624.html - Department of Behavioral Ecology, University of Göttingen

Dr. Susanne Diederich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Behavioral Ecology Evolution ecology macaques monkeys

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>