Research Highlights: Humans Evolved to Use Less Water Than Apes

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Humans Evolved to Use Less Water Than Apes

  • Humans must maintain a tight balance of water gain and loss each day to stay alive.
  • The evolution of water balance mechanism in humans is poorly understood.
  • There are no comparative measures from other hominoids regarding water balance physiology.
  • Humans drink water daily to maintain the balance.
  • In contrast, rainforest great apes typically get adequate water from their food.
  • Rainforest great apes can survive days or weeks without drinking water.
  • Researchers compare measures of water turnover in apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans) with 5 diverse human populations.
  • Across all samples, water turnover is highly correlated with energy usage, physical activity, climate, and fat free mass.
  • Human water turnover is 30 to 50 percent lower than other apes despite human’s greater ability to sweat.
  • Zoo and sanctuary apes had similar water turnover with the wild populations as well as the ratio of water intake to dietary energy intake.
  • However, zoo and sanctuary apes took a higher ratio of water to dry matter of food which might lead to digestive issues in captivity.
  • Humans appear to target a lower ratio of water to energy intake.
  • Researchers speculate that water stress due to changes in climate, diet, and behavior led to previously unknown water conservation adaptations in hominin physiology.

Source:

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.02.045

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