Dolphins, like humans, are susceptible to metabolic slowdowns as they age

Dolphins, like humans, are susceptible to metabolic slowdowns as they age
Dolphins, like humans, are susceptible to metabolic slowdowns as they age
Anonim

American scientists were the first to measure the metabolic slowdown with age in large species of marine mammals. It turned out that dolphins, like humans, suffer from this problem. The results of the study will help shed light on the factors that underlie age-related weight gain in people, regardless of diet and lifestyle.

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Researchers from Duke University (USA) studied ten bottlenose dolphins, ages ten to 45, living at the Marine Mammal Research Center in Florida and at Dolphin Quest in Hawaii. They presented their findings in an article for the Journal of Experimental Biology. To test the metabolic rate in individuals of different ages, scientists used the same method as for humans. They asked the animals to drink a certain amount of water with the addition of heavy forms of hydrogen and oxygen, and then tracked how long it took for the body to get rid of the liquid.

By analyzing the levels of heavy hydrogen and oxygen in the blood and urine of animals, the researchers were able to calculate how much carbon dioxide dolphins produce daily and how many calories they burn. It turned out that dolphins, like humans, have an accelerated metabolism: both are warm-blooded, and they need a lot of energy to keep warm.

However, bottlenose dolphins were found to burn 17.1 percent less energy daily than researchers expected for marine mammals of their size. In addition, they showed some signs of metabolic aging that are characteristic of humans. The oldest dolphins studied - between the ages of 40 - consumed 22-49 percent fewer kilocalories daily than expected for their body weight.

And, just as it happens in humans, most of these calories were converted to fat, not muscle. Thus, dolphins over 40 years old had a body fat percentage two and a half times higher than their counterparts under 20 years old.

This picture was not observed due to the lack of physical activity in the animals. After all, dolphins are real athletes: they can jump very high and swim quickly. By the way, they did the same during the research. Food intake, as measured by the researchers, was also normal for all bottlenose dolphins. Nevertheless, the metabolism of old animals did not change from this. The findings will help shed light on the factors that underlie age-related weight gain in people, regardless of diet and lifestyle.

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