Male macaques seem to have the ability to regulate their own body’s metabolism based on the environment around them.
New research published in Biology Letters suggests that depending on the environmental conditions, male macaques are able to slow or speed up their metabolic rates depending on what they’re about to take on, whether it has to do with mating, defending one’s self, or dealing with climate change.
The findings were determined by taking stool samples that were then used to determine the amount of a specific thyroid hormone dubbed T3. Throughout the year, the hormonal level differed in a specific pattern depending on the temperature outside, and even in correlation with mating season.
In the region that they’re native to, the mountainous areas of Morocco and Algeria, temperatures can shift from extreme highs to extreme lows as the climate changes between Summer and Winter. The ability to adjust metabolism may be a survival trait that is exercised by the monkey species to take on the extreme temperatures.
During lower temperature months, finding food is more difficult, and hence it would be useful to be able to slow down their metabolism.
In terms of mating and self-defense, these capabilities are equally as important. They have the ability to increase their metabolic rate when they know they’re going to need more energy, such as when mating with female partners and when they know they’re going to have to face off against other males for territory. Speeding up metabolism in these circumstances helps with increasing energy.
"By doing this, we have been able to learn about the way in which the flexibility of the metabolic physiology of Barbary macaques allows these primates - and perhaps other species, including humans - to balance the multiple energetic demands of their harsh and highly variable environment, and cope with ecological and social challenges,” Cristóbal-Azkarate explains.
The macaques aren’t the only species known to do this. Even humans, to a slight degree, tend to see the same hormonal changes depending on the time of year. This research could help us better understand the purpose of T3 and how to better regulate metabolisms.
Source: EurekAlert, Phys.org