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Scientists Breed Big-Brained Guppies To Demonstrate Evolution's Trade-Offs

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the not-fat-headed-just-big-brained dept.

Science 121

An anonymous reader writes "Scientists have long suspected that big brains come with an evolutionary price — but now they've published the first experimental evidence to support that suspicion, based on their efforts to breed big-brained fish. A Swedish team found it relatively easy to select and interbreed common guppies to produce bigger (or smaller) brains — as much as 9.3 percent bigger, to be precise (abstract). But the bigger-brained fish also tended to have smaller guts and produce fewer babies."

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121 comments

I for one... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42480867)

...oh nevermind.

Re:I for one... (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481631)

OK. [youtube.com]

Re:I for one... (0)

bessie (212155) | about a year and a half ago | (#42485663)

... welcome our guppy overlords?

Re:I for one... (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year and a half ago | (#42486567)

... welcome our big brained guppy overlords... DUH

Re:I for one... (3, Funny)

Guppy (12314) | about a year and a half ago | (#42487563)

... welcome our guppy overlords?

Hello.

Uh (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42480909)

"But the bigger-brained fish also tended to have smaller guts and produce fewer babies"

Of course. Smart fish stay kids free to live fun and awesome lives in the wet.

Re:Uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481033)

Trevor, is that you? [youtube.com]

Re:Uh (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482185)

But can your skinny, smart fish that produce few offspring create other glowing animals [youtube.com] ?

Thought not. Nerds 1, Brainiac fish 0.

Re:Uh (5, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483933)

Maybe they're not smarter, maybe they're just interested in different things? Animals with a gut all evolved from worms, in a sense the rest of the animal is there to keep the "worm" inside them alive. A human gut has it's own nervous system that can continue to function normally even if all connections to the brain are severed. If a fish gut works the same way then maybe they are "just" moving computing resources around between gut and brain? Kinda like getting an Obama by selectively breeding Texan Governors.

Re:Uh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42487193)

Maybe they're not smarter, maybe they're just interested in different things? Animals with a gut all evolved from worms, in a sense the rest of the animal is there to keep the "worm" inside them alive. A human gut has it's own nervous system that can continue to function normally even if all connections to the brain are severed. If a fish gut works the same way then maybe they are "just" moving computing resources around between gut and brain? Kinda like getting an Obama by selectively breeding Texan Governors.

They bred these guppies for a BIGGER brain. Not a smaller one stuck repeating "Blame BOOOSH!!!!"

And running the country like an unpatriotic out-of-control banana dictatorship.

Can we trade our current 9% unemployment rate with the smallest percentage of labor force participation since the 19-FUCKING-60s (in other words - TENS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE HAVE GIVEN UP LOOKING FOR WORK) for TEH EEEVIL BOOSH'S "horrible" 6% unemployment rate with some of the highest labor force participation rates in history?

Can we trade our current $1.5 TRILLION per year deficits for those "unpatriotic" $400 billion per year deficits? And you know who called those $400 billion dollar deficits "unpatriotic"? Yeah, Obama himself. So, there's your "unpatriotic" and "out-of-control". Because if $400 billion is "unpatriotic", what's $1.5 trillion? Hell, you could even make a case - using Obama's own logic - that Obama's performance on the deficit is flatly anti-American. It's certainly out-of-control.

You know what the difference between a drunken sailor and Barack Obama is? When a drunken sailor runs out of money, he has to stop spending.

But not Baracky.

Oh no.

Now that we're up against the debt ceiling (again!), and Baracky's had his "tax the EEEVIL rich!" demands met, what's he going to do now when it becomes obvious in a few months that his tax-the-rich demagoguery was nowhere near sufficient to raise revenues from their already historic highs (yep - the US government is now and has been for several years sucking more money from the pockets of the people than it ever has - ya think maybe that's why Obama's economy STILL sucks?), what's Obammie gonna do about the fact that he won't get the debt ceiling raised because he won't get his utterly out-of-control spending in check?

How's Obammie going to keep spending without Congress upping the debt ceiling?

Banana dictatorship style, he'll have the Treasury mint special coins and stamp ONE TRILLION DOLLARS on them. [theatlanticwire.com] .

Link provided, just in case you think I'm making this ridiculous shit up.

But I'm not.

One does wonder if Baracky's going to put his pinkie to his mouth as he utters "ONE TRILLION DOLLARS!!!"

Yeah, that's how Obammie's going to get past the debt ceiling - stamp ONE TRILLION DOLLARS on a chunk of metal, then spend that "money".

Wny not TEN trillion dollars? Hell, why not INFINITY DOLLARS? I guess he must have thought THAT would be silly.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present President Barack Obama, making banana dictators the world over look like shining examples of respect for law and order and fiscal propriety.

And you fucking fools made fun of George W. Bush.

Fucking fools. Literally.

Cuz you been FOOLED.

Re:Uh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42484607)

"But the bigger-brained fish also tended to have smaller guts and produce fewer babies"

Maybe this explains what is going on in the US...

  • - Big Brain -> Small Belly
  • - Small Brain -> Big Belly

Re:Uh (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#42487071)

Ummm.... couldn't they select for big brain AND big guts?

They aren't that smart .... (1)

pollarda (632730) | about a year and a half ago | (#42487697)

They aren't that smart ... They still pee in the pool....

That's a win! (2, Funny)

cps42 (102752) | about a year and a half ago | (#42480935)

Guppies make too many babies in my tank, any way. How do we order these?

Re:That's a win! (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481807)

You don't... but you could get a catfish or other predator to keep the population down... Some types of catfish will eat the babies when they're born without being big enough to eat the adults, for example.

Re:That's a win! (2)

marcosdumay (620877) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482183)

Just put less places to hide near the surface in the tank, and the adult Guppies will eat their own babies.

Interesting! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42480949)

Chinese must be very big brained while indians very small brained. Fortunately the brainproblem is being solved in india by educating them in child preventive sex.

Capcha: napkin (guess indians haven't figured those out yet, like us westerners...)

Fringe benefits (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#42480981)

Researcher: "We didn't find anything commercially useful, but at least the fish can do my taxes for me."

Re:Fringe benefits (3, Informative)

mikael (484) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481547)

"In this paper, we describe a method of representing the US income tax declaration form in the form of a fish tank decorated with ornaments. We placed fish food at locations representing sources of income, while taxes were represented by obstacles in the form of fish tank ornaments. The statistical average time taken by the fish to feed determined the final amount of tax due."

Re:Fringe benefits (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42488131)

The statistical average

Phew, I thought for a moment you'd made the classic error of using the unstatistical one.

Reproductive organs size vs brain size (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42480991)

Sounds like something I could have read on Slashdot. But honestly, I'm really bad at remembering stuff. I'm not that smart either...

Re:Reproductive organs size vs brain size (1)

Palamos (1379347) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481655)

Sounds to me like you've got a big gut and lots of kids!

Big guts vs no guts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42484893)

Sounds to me like you've got a big gut and lots of kids!

At least that guy has more guts than you

They were actually able to go past 9.3% on brains. (4, Funny)

Sheetrock (152993) | about a year and a half ago | (#42480993)

But for some reason, the very smartest guppies had no interest in swimming at all but would just hang around the bottom of the tank, head side down.

Re:They were actually able to go past 9.3% on brai (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481197)

Very Funny! - Now off I go to watch some ice hockey [OHL] where I get to see those that float upon the top of the frozen pond.

Lets see if we can raise dumber pigs... (1)

bucktug (306690) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481011)

More bacon!

Re:Lets see if we can raise dumber pigs... (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484427)

I second this, as long as the dumber breed is kept separate from the main population.

More bacon!

Actually, though, this experiment does not prove much of anything. The particular gene they were selecting for might be associated with another gene for small guts, for example. And poorer nutrition would almost certainly imply smaller broods.

We know that many genes are not independent, for example. In order to prove that this trait (bigger brains) by itself was actually the CAUSE of smaller guts and smaller broods, an awful lot of process of elimination has to take place, and I don't see that they did that.

Also, the fact that smarter primates might have smaller broods is pretty much irrelevant to their findings. The same is true of smarter humans when compared to most of their peers. So what? Are the researchers trying to claim that the situations are comparable? Generalizing from mice or rats to humans is a pretty huge leap. But THIS... this is just laughable.

I'd find this more interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481105)

if they found a way to selectively breed -smarter- guppies, not guppies with larger brains. I wonder how you would test a guppy's IQ?

Re:I'd find this more interesting... (1)

jdastrup (1075795) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481167)

Guppy IQ Test
Q) Do you eat your own babies?
End of Test

Re:I'd find this more interesting... (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483637)

Are you testing IQ or evolutionary potential?
From the point of view of a single fish, eating the young has many advantages. Less competition for food, space, oxygen and they may taste better then the crap the fish usually get.
So why not eat them? It's not like they're going to take care of their parents in their old age (other then cleaning up their bones once they die).

Re:I'd find this more interesting... (1)

rollingcalf (605357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481881)

Read the article. The bigger-brained guppies were smarter in the tests they were given.

Special snowflage guppies (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42488477)

That doesn't mean they were smarter. Perhaps the smaller-brained ones have ADHD, dyslexia, asshatburger syndrome, or just get nervous taking tests.

Re:I'd find this more interesting... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42483947)

Believe it or not, but there are various tests that have been conducted with regards to fish intelligence. The methods involved showing various colours, shapes and symbols to see if the fish could identify and remember them. Another test involved trapping a fish where there was only one way to get out and then repeating that test 11 months later wherein the fish got out almost instantly because it had remembered how it escaped the first time. The results are surprising and debunk the myth that fish are mindless and cannot retain memories. Some cichlids even demonstrate intelligence on par with small mammals.

Idiocracy (2)

jdastrup (1075795) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481107)

This was demonstrated in the first 5 minutes of Idiocracy.

Re:Idiocracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481281)

Which is based on real life Amer'ka!!!

Re:Idiocracy (2)

greenfruitsalad (2008354) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482997)

some people still claim that film is a comedy. i just find it scary.

Re:Idiocracy (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484527)

A very accurate prediction of the future masquerading as a comedy (that did terrible in the theaters but I loved the first time I saw).

Re:Idiocracy (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year and a half ago | (#42485267)

Of course it did terrible in theaters. Consider how stupid you'd have to be to pay current ticket prices and what this movie was about.

Re:Idiocracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42486987)

oh yeah.

how about a big-brained beavis (nacho-based)

to win the downhill race

Has nothing to do with evolution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481115)

Did it happen on its own through random mutation, natural adaptation to environmental changes, and "survival of the fittest"?

Nope

Not evolution

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (4, Insightful)

WillgasM (1646719) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481551)

Who said evolution had to be natural? Did one breed of dog not evolve into several others through selective breeding? Evolution is a result; natural selection, selective breeding, etc are a means to that end. I have to agree (at least I'm assuming we agree) that this doesn't necessarily prove much. When working with a limited gene pool and a short amount of time, you won't necessarily mimic the results of eons of natural selection. Maybe their big brained guppies had a dominant gene for small guts and low libido, but that doesn't mean the guppy population as whole shares these traits. Also, with enough time, you could have all sorts of genetic variations that could potentially result in fat, horny, big-brained guppies. I'm not saying their research is patently flawed, just that it may or may not reflect trends in the real world. It's kinda impossible to know for sure without a spare universe and infinite amounts of time.

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (1)

brentonboy (1067468) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483305)

I think there's a difference between breeding and evolution. Breeding plays with existing traits and amplifies/changes them. Evolution actually creates something new. You can't "breed" a dog to have wings or gills or anything that the ancestor wolves didn't have. But you can play with size and hair length and things like that.

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (1)

Kielistic (1273232) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484947)

Just where do you think these new things come from through evolution if not some kind of selective breeding? Evolution isn't magic; some wolf doesn't just go "gee, those birds look yummy" then birth pups with wings.

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (1)

the biologist (1659443) | about a year and a half ago | (#42486099)

Mutation creates anew, selection winnows, evolution is the sum of both effects.

The selection can be 'natural selection' or 'directed selection' and the result is still change over time, otherwise known as evolution.

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (3, Informative)

shaitand (626655) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481779)

Actually still evolution. The natural environment of these guppies changed from a tank in a pet store to a tank that happened to be in a lab filled with apes who like to kill small brained guppies for their own amusement (or some other reason, who can say why white coated apes do what they do). Through random mutation some guppies had larger brains. Because of the selection pressure in this new environment those guppies tended to survive to produce offspring while the predator killed their smaller brained counterparts.

Same shit different day. Replace the apes in coats with some other environment change that favors big brained guppies and kills off the dumb ones and the result would be pretty much the same. Guppies have no magical sixth sense that tells them to do something genetically different in the presence of guppy slaying apes than guppy slaying anything that isn't apes.

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (1)

smhsmh (1139709) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482019)

Indeed, it has everything to do with evolution. Corn and rice and some of their weed pests have evolved according to the attempted controls of farmers. I remember learning of a weed found in Japanese rice paddies. Originally the plant looked nothing like a young rice plant, but since farmers weeded it vigorously, the weed evolved so that for some of its life cycle it resembled strongly a young rice plant, very hard to farmers to differentiate from real rice. (Sorry, references not at hand. Perhaps it was on something like PBS Nova.)

For an intelligent speculation on how larger or smaller brains might be influenced evolutionarily by nothing more than the natural environment, see Kurt Vonnegut's 1985 novel _Galápagos_.

Echinochloa oryzoides (1)

Guppy (12314) | about a year and a half ago | (#42487765)

I remember learning of a weed found in Japanese rice paddies. Originally the plant looked nothing like a young rice plant, but since farmers weeded it vigorously, the weed evolved so that for some of its life cycle it resembled strongly a young rice plant, very hard to farmers to differentiate from real rice.

That would be Echinochloa oryzoides [wikipedia.org] (Early Barnyard Grass), and the process of artificial selection in agriculture known as Vavilovian Mimicry [wikipedia.org] .

Oats and Rye are believed to be examples of weeds that were so successful at mimicry, that they eventually were domesticated and became "secondary crops".

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (4, Insightful)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481925)

Not evolution

Obviously this is intelligent design.

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483057)

Guppies are not being designed.
Their evolution is being guided.

I know it sounds clever, but that's not really what "intelligent design" means when it's being used as a proxy for creationism.

Spirit-directed evolution (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484117)

Their evolution is being guided.

Which only means that the creationists will start calling day-age creationism "Spirit-directed evolution".

Re:Spirit-directed evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42484577)

I don't see it this way at all. Believing in God doesn't have to mean he's intervening in nature, it can simply mean that nature does as it was designed to do. He who wrote the program controls the results. If God made our reality out of nothing (or at least nothing of our reality) and sustains it, then he knows where it ends up and it explains why anything exists. What it doesn't explain is how He got there, but I think the question is short sighted because it is borne of our understanding of things.

Dove-shaped mouse cursor (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484811)

Believing in God doesn't have to mean he's intervening in nature

You're talking about deism, right?

He who wrote the program controls the results.

And has the power to interact with the program through a debugging hook called holy spirit. Ever seen Jehovah God's active force represented as a dove? That's His mouse cursor.

Re:Spirit-directed evolution (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year and a half ago | (#42485587)

I'd say mod you up... but I'd hate for them to see the idea... so your... and my... comment must be modded down.

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42483429)

Actually, seems more like big-brain design.

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484295)

I actually thought of that as a snappy comeback on facebook a few days ago. But the fact is that it's not evolution, it's "artificial selection". It's the same process that turned wolves into man's best friend over the last 20,000 or so years.

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (1)

the biologist (1659443) | about a year and a half ago | (#42486107)

You're correct in that it is not 'evolution by natural selection'. You're incorrect in that it is still 'evolution'.

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (1)

Guppy (12314) | about a year and a half ago | (#42487609)

Obviously this is intelligent design.

It might be better described as intelligent selection, as none of the initial genetic variation (or new mutations occurring during the process) were created by the researchers.

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42483325)

Wow. This is modded up. What a poor understanding of evolution. You just need mutation and selection. It doesn't really matter whether selection comes from the environment or man.

Re:Has nothing to do with evolution (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42488595)

Man is a part of the environment anyway.

A Delicious Side-Effect (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481165)

A Swedish team found it relatively easy to select and interbreed

A rotund researcher licked his lips as he continued, "... a delicious side effect that we noticed was that the larger brained fish had an overall higher fat content and therefore made lutefisk that hardly tasted like soap! On a side note, we will have to breed many thousand more fish to make sure that we have not stumbled upon a localized minimum for reproductive abilities. My colleagues would agree with me if they weren't so busy utilizing the restrooms."

Re:A Delicious Side-Effect (2)

Altus (1034) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481841)

See, for me this brought to mind an entirely different kind of swedish fish. [swedishfish.com]

Though gummy fish with huge brains seem kind of scary actually.

Re:A Delicious Side-Effect (1)

Vreejack (68778) | about a year and a half ago | (#42488437)

It is the fat that gets converted to soap, so: no.

Don't underestimate the American education system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481171)

Turns out, surprisingly, I actually did learn everything there is to know in High School.

inner breeding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481203)

Of course there will be trade offs if you inner breed to achieve a desirable modification. Just like the quality propagates, the defects propagate also.

Re:inner breeding (1)

shaitand (626655) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481819)

I for one didn't read the article. I doubt you did either. They might have used a substantially large genetic pool. It's on thing to take the top 10% from 20 guppies and quite another to select the top 10% from a million guppies.

not to state the obvious, but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481261)

no shit. Borderline-retarded niggers, wetbacks, and white trash pop out babies at a much faster rate than educated people.

Intelligent Design (1)

zeidrich (2793777) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481275)

If I were to have published this paper I wouldn't have used the term "artificial evolution". I would have called it "Intelligently Designed Evolution" just to make everyone rage. Especially since they were selecting for bigger brains.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481755)

I assure you that the Creationists I know would not rage at the term Intelligently Designed Evolution. But if the term "Intelligent Design" was in the paper anywhere for any reason, it wouldn't have made it past the journal's spam filter upon submission.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42486295)

The way to troll other scientists is not to act like a nut job. If you do that they'll simply dismiss you as a nut job, ignore you and happily go on with their much more interesting work.

The way to troll scientists is to prove their pet theory wrong (and no, you won't do that with evolution). I'm talking about some pet theory in a sub-sub-sub-field. Unfortunately, that involves doing groundbreaking science which is rather difficult.

Good luck.

Obligatory (1)

psybre (921148) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481351)

Think of the guppies!

The next experiment: (1)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481355)

This is what they should do next:
Selectively breed for bigger brains, bigger guts and more babies.

I'd gladly trade..... (4, Funny)

dcigary (221160) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481385)

...a smaller gut for a bigger brain. Alas, it was not meant to be...

I'm glad I'm a Betta.... (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | about a year and a half ago | (#42488443)

... because I don't work so hard. Guppies are so frightfully clever, and they all wear grey. And Goldfish are stupid. Besides, they all wear gold. No, I don't want to play with goldfish children.....

Breed for one trait, other traits deteriorate. (4, Insightful)

erice (13380) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481545)

This doesn't seem very enlightening. If small guts are normally selected against and you specifically breed them, providing they also have large brains, it should come as no surprise that your large brained guppies have smaller guts on average. If all the large brained guppies have smaller guts then brain size and gut size are probably controlled by the same genes: in guppies. That's interesting but not very general.

I would be more interested to see if they could genetically engineer guppies with large brains and normal size guts and see if they are competitive with their unenhanced cousins. Alternatively, but less conclusively, they could attempt to breed large brained guppies with normal sized guts. A negative result would suggest that either this combination of traits either can not be encoded or does not survive if encoded. How well understood is the guppy genome?

Re:Breed for one trait, other traits deteriorate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42482817)

Your comment is too sensible for slashdot. I want to vote you down.. Ha haa.. jk..

Swedish Fish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481665)

The article can be summarized as so: "Swedish Fish have bigger brains."

Study confirms... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481997)

What the movie "Idiocracy" already taught us...

"That result suggests that bigger brains are somehow associated with smaller broods "

Is this really fair, though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42482059)

Do they know for a fact this relation exists?
Or is it an indirect cause of hastening the size increase of their brains, which is pushing more resources towards them to keep them alive?
Evolution might need the time to actually balance out resources more before we could really make that a fact.
A brain size increase in such a short time is pretty damn huge, biologically speaking.

Fast evolution could be the problem here. We know that high pressure to evolve results in instability and high numbers of mistakes if it continues for too many generations. It is both a great and terrible thing from a species and individual standpoint, respectively.
The randomness of mate selection is a natural barrier to evolution that has kept it mostly stable over all this time.
We'd really need to experiment with this on a bunch of other species, and continue it for quite a few more generations to see if anything actually does balance out.

A few million years back the headline was: (1)

maeka (518272) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482071)

Martian Scientists Breed Big-Brained Apes To Demonstrate Evolution's Trade-Offs

Fiendishly cunning, the huns (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42488309)

Don't be silly, it's all a hoax created by the Germans in WW2. [google.com]

Environmental fitness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42482443)

As one commenter of the TFA wrote:

joe mota: The key is not just the number of progeny, but their ability to survive and procreate. if smarter fish have higher survival it compensates for reduced fecundity and evolution goes that way. It seems to me that with humans, the adoption of a higher energy diet would have coincided with the increased intelligence necessary to procure it.

I agree. It's not just how many babies they produce, but how many survive to breed themselves. It looks like the researchers didn't test for that, or couldn't in a lab environment.

In 2023... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42482533)

...the big-brained guppies, guided by their increasing intelligence conclude:
The human race stands in the way of their evolution and must be destroyed.

What I want to know is... (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483133)

...what does the scientists' octo-parrot think of all this?

Re:What I want to know is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42485369)

"I think so Brain, but when will the guppies evolve into Zsa Zsa Gabor?"

Oh, guppies (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483223)

Did anyone else think that said "puppies"?

Yuppie guppies (1)

Que_Ball (44131) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483653)

The large brained fish decided to focus on their careers instead of settling down to raise a family.

 

Re:Yuppie guppies (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484513)

"we found the male subjects preferred to watch videos of mating while stroking their gonopodiums rather than engaging in intercourse or seeking female fish"

It's not an evolutionary tradeoff (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483817)

If it is artificically introduced, then by definition, it isn't an evolutionary tradeoff.

Friend (1)

cyborg666 (2488892) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484357)

Woah, that was unexpected. I know one of the co-authors and help proofreading the article months ago :-)

Re:Friend (4, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484535)

Woah, this intelligent guppy posts on slashdot with an ID. The ones I bred only post AC

Re:Friend (1)

Guppy (12314) | about a year and a half ago | (#42487559)

Woah, this intelligent guppy posts on slashdot with an ID.

Not only that, but he has a 5 digit UID! :P

Re:Friend (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42488349)

Look on the bright side, at least you didn't create roman_mir or the Kristopelts.

Need bigger brains for ./ commenters (1)

XiaoMing (1574363) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484589)

There are quite a few posts talking about how this isn't natural selection. How it's not evolution. How they should have done this with genetic engineering. How everyone who can write a comment would have done it better than these guys. That's very cute.

It's important to keep in mind that natural selection will effectively span the full probability space of all possible traits as far as offspring go, and only the strongest survive.

What that means is twofold:

1. Given that you're trying to study tradeoffs in nature within the same species, you obviously don't want to engineer any combination of traits that wouldn't occur naturally.

2. What the scientists did was exactly what they should have done. They selected traits that could have occurred naturally, but with a small probability. By enhancing these traits, you can then assess how over time and generations the inheritance would play out.

Obviously, the study's scope wasn't as far-reaching as the ultimate evolutionary end-game of guppies (that would require somehow objectively quantifying the increase in survivability due to larger brain size vs. sheer number of offspring), but they do manage to demonstrate a pretty strong dependence (more than correlation, as this was a directly applied change vs. a control) of the compromise in energy expenditures in developing organs.

Yes, if the results were anything other than "common sense", it would be remarkably exciting news that would warrant further study as to the hiding spot of our brainy fish-overlords. But in science, sometimes it's just as difficult (albeit slightly less rewarding) to isolate a fundamental tenet in its most distilled form.

Re:Need bigger brains for ./ commenters (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year and a half ago | (#42485597)

Only those most suited to the current environment survive. Strength has nothing to do with it.

Also, in the wild, it's more like "Only those most suited living long enough to breed in the current environment have ancesters."

Does the smaller gut inhibit caloric intake? (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484769)

I read the article but it didn’t address this. Gene expression takes energy. Large dinosaurs spent a lot of energy on both creating and maintaining their size. We have to assume they had a lot of food available.

While the larger brain increased cognitive capabilities of the guppies, did it also reduce the fitness of the specimens?

Would the children of Nepalese sherpas, if raised in lower altitudes, have the same lung capacity of their brethren? It’s a question of gene expression.

Humans killed off all of the large animals such as mastodons and the original bison (bison are an interesting story, just watched a show about it). Humans represented a huge negative pressure on them, and they are no more.

Gene expression is probably controlled by environmental factors. I find this stuff fascinating.

My 1985 UG thesis on evolutionary psychology (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484949)

Princeton: "Why Intelligence: Object, Stability, Evolution, and Model". I presented an analogical story about why simpler thinking could be better for survival because it allowed faster reaction times. I developed some of those ideas into a couple of conference presentations and made a couple related simulations of self-replicating robots in the late 1980s.

Then I wrote an (unpublished) essay about it in a PhD grad program at SUNY Stony Brook in Ecology and Evolution around the early 1990s, outlining why Hydras did not have brains, focusing there more on the actual cost to the organism to have a big brain. Not much traction there then. I had another cool idea there about the normal distribution as an ideal search function for an arbitrary discontinuous problem space.

My wife (who I met in E&E grad school around then) did her graduate thesis work on why foraging theory was wrong because sometimes organisms that made "dumb" decisions would do better than ones that all made "Smarter" decisions that set them in competition with each other. Just today we were discussion this, and I was thinking that for social species, it would make sense for individuals to move to a food source with a probability related to its relative size, so that the population could forage optimally. That might explain aspects of human behavior where people seem to make "dumb" decisions, perhaps also reflected in behavior of troops of bonobos or chimps. I might predict that solitary foragers might do less of that? Probably some PhD or even Nobel Prize in that for someone else. :-)

Glad to see this kind of research is going mainstream a couple decades later. Back then, especially as I was motivated in this direction by thinking about robotics and AI, such ideas were very far out of the mainstream. They were not rejected so much as mainly ignored or not understood. Plus, I wanted to build what I thought would be a next stage in human (co-)evolution -- the self-replicating space habitat, and that took things way too far...

I thought about those ideas in part from reading people like Victor Serebriakoff and his book "Brain", Gregory Bateson and "Steps to an Ecology of Mind", Norbert Weiner on Cybernetics and "The Human Use of Human Beings", and "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins. "The Two Faces of Tomorrow" by James P. Hogan also underlay some bunch of that. And then at my advisor's suggestion because I was looking into this area, "Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology" by Valentino Braitenberg (possibly a pre-release copy?) and "Man, Robot and Society: Models and Speculations" by Masanao Toda talking about "The Fungus Eater" robot thought experiment. This was before "Evolutionary Psychology" became a field of its own eventually.

It is possible that these time, material, heat, and energy costs of computation may define limits that prevents many of the scenarios people outline for various flavors of computational "Singularity". Like everything, intelligence can have diminishing returns depending on the level and the context -- although it might also have threshold where exceeding some level may change the nature of the survival game entirely too.

Other articles on Slashdot have talked about how individual human intelligence peaked thousands of years ago:
http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/11/13/191217/study-claims-human-intelligence-peaked-two-to-six-millennia-ago [slashdot.org]

Although environment has a lot to do with intelligence, too. And there are ways that today has the most interesting environment in some ways, even if unhealthy diets and lifestyles are probably greatly diminishing intelligence a lot too these days.

brain size = intelligence ? (1)

swell (195815) | about a year and a half ago | (#42485985)

"the bigger-brained fish also tended to have smaller guts and produce fewer babies."

                              Just like humans!

I have to question the association with size & smarts. 100 years ago in the age of eugenics, there was an effort to measure people- individuals and ethnic groups, and to draw conclusions based on those measurements. There was a general assumption that a large head (and presumably brain) indicated an intelligent person. However, one source that I found from around 1950 stated that the largest brain ever recorded was that of an idiot.

Has this changed? Is there evidence now that size = smarts? Is this true for animals as well as humans? The most recent I had heard (probably 1990s) was that a large brain in relation to body size might indicate intelligence in some species.

So I'm googling around today and this question looks even more complicated, however this
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=does-brain-size-matter [scientificamerican.com]
agrees with most that size alone is meaningless.

Add to that the already debunked 'smaller gut' significance and what's left?

This experiment just looks stupid to me; something that a small brained scientist might try.

So I can't meet a woman. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42488109)

I can't meet a woman because my brain is too big.

There is a whole in my theory though. If I were so smart wouldn't I be able to better strategize my way there?

Makes Sense (1)

sudon't (580652) | about a year and a half ago | (#42488217)

"But the bigger-brained fish also tended to have smaller guts and produce fewer babies."

Well, that makes sense. As we all know, educated people have fewer children and often eat healthier.
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