Parents who have teenage kids know this all too well: One minute the “little kids” are just up to your shoulder, and all of a sudden, they’re growing over your head. Until now, it was believed that this type of pubertal increase in body length occurs only in humans, but not in other primates. A recently published study from the German Primate Center (DPZ) – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research in Göttingen and the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna – has now examined this widespread hypothesis in bonobos. (Pan Paniscus), RESULTS: Apparently human-like growth spurts in adolescence also occur in bonobos and possibly in other monkeys. Thus, humans are less exceptional in this trait than previously thought.
Until now, there has been broad agreement that the increase in body length during human adolescence is developmentally unique and absent in other primates. However, such juvenile growth spurts in body weight occur in many primate species, including humans. This study was published in the journal elife It is suspected and confirmed that the reason for this deviation may be methodological issues.
Mind the scale…
In their scientific work, the researchers used three approaches: They first pointed out how scaling problems and incorrect comparisons between growth rates of body length (linear) and weight (volumetric) can lead to misleading interpretations, effective Apples can be compared to oranges.
… leads to the correct result
Next, the research team applied a scale-corrected approach to a comprehensive dataset of 258 zoo-dwelling bonobos. These data included weight and length growth as well as several physiological markers related to growth and puberty. “We observed a clear increase in body weight and body length in both sexes. The weight and length growth curves coincided with each other and with patterns of testosterone and IGFBP-3 levels that are typical of juvenile hormone growth in humans.” are similar,” says first author Andreas Burgnell. Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology (KLIVV) at the University of Veterinary Medicine about the results.
Reinterpretation of studies provides different insights
In a third step, data published in other studies on non-human primates were reinterpreted. The results showed that increases in weight and length during adolescence occur not only in bonobos, but are likely to occur in other monkeys as well. “Our results underline the importance of taking scaling laws into account when interpreting growth curves in general,” summarized Verena Behringer, scientist in the Laboratory of Endocrinology at the German Primate Center and senior author of the publication. “Furthermore, our data show that the pronounced, human-like juvenile growth spurt in body weight and body length is present not only in bonobos, but possibly in many other non-human primates as well.
The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers from the Odyssey University of Applied Sciences, the Antwerp Zoo Center for Research and Conservation, the University of Antwerp, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and for Animal Behavior and the Institute of Cognitive Science, Osnabrück University. , In addition, 19 zoos provided their data and contributed significantly to the success of the study.