Predators prefer to hunt small-brained prey

August 2, 2006
Predators prefer to hunt small-brained prey
An example of prey, a mona monkey.

Predators such as leopards and chimpanzees consistently target smaller-brained prey less capable of escape; research at the University of Liverpool has shown.

They avoid more intelligent prey such as monkeys which have exceptionally large brains and are more capable of escaping attacks.

The study, carried out by Dr Susanne Shultz, from the School of Biological Sciences, focused on predators from Africa and South America such as the jaguar, chimpanzee, leopard and puma. Dr Shultz found that prey with a small brain such as small antelope, mongooses and the red river hog were more susceptible to attacks by predators compared with larger-brained prey. The report showed a strong correlation between the brain size of the prey and the predatory bias towards it.

Animals with small brains lack behavioural flexibility and are probably less capable of developing new strategies to escape predators, compared with larger-brained species.

Dr Shultz said: “When these findings are put into perspective, it makes sense that being clever should help individuals avoid or escape danger – the larger-brained chimpanzees rarely feature in the diets of predators.”

“Some animals’ ability to avoid being eaten by predators may be a contributing factor to the evolution of large brains across some species, adding to conventional theories which argue this is important for developing social relationships and using tools.”

Dr Shultz’s research is published in the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters.

Source: University of Liverpool

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Political polarization? Don't blame the web, study says

September 19, 2017

Despite the popular narrative that the web is to blame for rising political polarization, a study by a Brown University economist has found that recent growth in polarization is greatest for demographic groups in which individuals ...

New quasar discovered by astronomers

September 19, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of astronomers led by Jacob M. Robertson of the Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee has detected a new quasi-stellar object (QSO). They found the new quasar, designated SDSS J022155.26-064916.6, ...

Nonlinear physics bridges thoughts to sounds in birdsong

September 19, 2017

The beautiful sound of birdsongs emerging from the trees is a wonderful example of how much nature can still teach us, even as much about their origins are still mysterious to us. About 40 percent of bird species learn to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.