Scientists have learned about the reasons for the longevity of parrots

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of researchers has shown that one of the reasons parrots live so long is their large brains, which help them better adapt to nature

Parrots are known for their remarkable cognitive abilities and exceptionally long lives. Some of them are able to live in captivity even up to a record 80-90 years (by human standards, this can be compared with several centuries). The mystery of such longevity has haunted scientists for many years.

In 2018, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the Oregon Health and Science University (USA) conducted a genetic analysis of the blue fronted Amazon parrot and compared the results with the DNA of 30 other bird species.

They found that the DNA of parrots contains genes that stimulate the activity of telomerase, an enzyme that determines the number of cell divisions before it dies. This process is associated with the aging of the body: relatively speaking, if telomeres are replenished forever, the cellular structure can become immortal.

In a new study, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior (Germany), the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Netherlands), the universities of New Mexico State (USA), Southern Denmark (Denmark), Lethbridge (Canada) and other scientific organizations approached the issue of duration life of parrots from a different angle.

The authors of the work estimated the life expectancy of 133,818 parrots belonging to 244 species. The data was taken from the records of more than a thousand zoos. The analysis revealed a surprising diversity in the life expectancy of these birds.

On average, from two years for a fig parrot and up to 30 years for a scarlet macaw. It is important to understand that 30 years is a milestone that is extremely rare for birds of this size. Usually only very large species of birds survive to it.

The team then wondered if parrots’ cognitive abilities affect their longevity. The researchers considered two hypotheses.

They hypothesized that having a relatively large brain helps these birds live longer: the smarter the animal, the better it can solve the problems it faces in the wild. The second idea was that a large brain takes a long time to grow, and this process requires a long life.

The scientists then tested each hypothesis with available data and simulations. The first one turned out to be true: parrots with a large brain are better at solving problems that arise before them in nature, which allows them to live longer. In the future, the team intends to study whether sociality and learning ability affect the longevity of these birds.


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