Man or woman get off the monkey! This isn’t really new as there are so many similarities between humans and primates. A new study by Herman Pontzer, associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University, is believed to be the source of a surprising new trait in human evolution.
And that would come from the shape of our nose! Our ancestors, the primates, had a much flared nose than our current appendage … And this narrowing of the nose would have the advantage that we could use between 30 and 50% less water than the primates we are descended from!
Our “upright bipedal” position makes us special beings in animal species. However, the use of water is a major difference between our body and that of an animal. According to the study published in Current Biology, that ability to use less water would come from hunters and gatherers who had to travel ever greater distances to get supplies. And without necessarily having water sources nearby. Let’s not forget that the first humans lived in much drier climates than they do today, and that consuming less water would have benefited them!
A study on a “current” panel
To conduct this study, the researchers selected 309 people from different backgrounds:
Farmers Hunters – Gatherers office workers
These people were compared to 72 monkeys scattered across zoos and sanctuaries. The scientists then calculated the water intake of each person participating in the study, regardless of whether it came from food or drink. They also tracked the amount of water lost through urine, sweat, or the gastrointestinal tract.
After synthesizing all these elements, the results are clear: Between water loss and fluid intake, humans use about 3 liters a day … Chimpanzees or gorillas use 6 liters!
Our bodies have adapted to use less water while staying healthy at the same time. Photo credit: Shutterstock / Great Pics – Ben Heine
But people seem to sweat more than animals! The difference would come from our sweat glands, which are ten times more developed in humans than in chimpanzees. But we are also much more active than monkeys in zoos or sanctuaries!
But why do we use less water then?
The researchers believe the difference is related to the mechanism of evolution. Our bodies have adapted to use less water while staying healthy at the same time. And that difference would come in part from the shape of our nose! Specifically, our nose forms a projection that monkeys do not have. Our nose repels water vapor, but its shape means that it accumulates inside and is reused by our body. This is not the case with monkeys with a flat nose, the water vapor. Leaked water is immediately released into the air!