Nutritional constraints on brain evolution: sodium and nitrogen limit brain size

Emilie Snell-Rood, Eli Matthew Swanson, Anne Espeset, Sarah Jaumann, Kinsey Philips, Courtney Walker, Brandon Semke, Akira Mori, Gerhard Boenisch, Jens Kattge, Eric Seabloom & Elizabeth Borer
Nutrition has been hypothesized as an important constraint on brain evolution. However, it is unclear whether the availability of specific nutrients or the difficulty of locating high quality diets limits brain evolution, especially over long periods of time. We show that dietary nutrient content predicted brain size across 42 species of butterflies. Brain size, relative to body size, was associated with the sodium and nitrogen content of a species’ diet. There was no evidence that...
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