Do I Look Fat in Orange?: Orangutans Have Very Slow Metabolisms
Orangutans spend all day exercising, slowly swinging from tree to tree, munching on low-fat plants, but they're still kind of pudgy. It turns out that your average orang, for all its constant motion, burns fewer calories per day than a human couch potato.
Scientists figured this out by convincing captive orangutans to drink radio-labeled water, a technique that has been used to measure metabolism in humans for decades:
Since the orangutans possess a rudimentary understanding of spoken commands or requests, the researchers could ask them to drink water that had been modified to contain heavier isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen and then to urinate in cups for analysis.
“It’s that easy,” said Herman Pontzer, a professor of biological anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis and lead author of the study of the energetics of orangutans that will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “It’s easier than working with 3-year-olds.” [NYT]
The average 120-pound female orangutan burns just 1600 calories a day, despite continual exertion and an extremely muscular build. A moderately active woman burns several hundred more calories a day, despite having less muscle. The researchers say that orangs evolved an extra-thrifty metabolism to cope with an uncertain food supply.
[Photo credit: flickr user Paolo Camera, distributed under Creative Commons.]
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.
I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.
- Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
- The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
- The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.