Parrots are famous for their remarkable cognitive abilities and exceptionally long lifespans. Now, a study led by Max Planck researchers has shown that one of these traits has likely been caused by the other. By examining 217 parrot species, the researchers revealed that species such as the scarlet macaw and sulfur-crested cockatoo have extremely long average lifespans, of up to 30 years, which are usually seen only in large birds. Further, they demonstrated a possible cause for these long lifespans: large relative brain size. The study is the first to show a link between brain size and lifespan in parrots, suggesting that increased cognitive ability may have helped parrots to navigate threats in their environment and to enjoy longer lives.
…”Living an average of 30 years is extremely rare in birds of this size,” says Smeele who worked closely with Lucy Aplin from MPI-AB and Mary Brooke McElreath from MPI-EvA on the study. “Some individuals have a maximum lifespan of over 80 years, which is a respectable age even for humans. These values are really spectacular if you consider that a human male weights about 100 times more.