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Social Animals Have Bigger Brains
New study suggests social animals developed larger noggins

Ask a cat lover and a dog lover which species is smarter and you'll get two different answers. 

As a dog lover myself, you can guess my opinion, though what do I know, apparently a study in the United Kingdom found that the average cat lover holds a higher education than the canine persuasion! But, smarts aside, the truth is that dogs have larger brains, and not because they’re generally bigger.

A new study by Oxford University shows that canines have larger brains than felines because they are a highly social species. While researchers were mapping the evolutionary history of the brain across more than 500 different mammals, they found that there is a link between the sociality of animals and the size of their brains relative to body size. 

The brains of monkeys grew the most over time, followed by horses, dolphins, and dogs. The brains of solitary animals, like cats, grew much more slowly during the same period. The study suggests that social animals may have developed larger brains because group living is challenging--now I can see why humans have such large brains!

 

 

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by Yukari*/flickr.

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Submitted by Pamela | December 5 2010 |

In a related idea, I read somewhere recently that both dog brains and human brains shrunk a bit when they got together. Evidently when humans could rely on dogs to help them, they didn't need to have some areas (like their sense of smell?) so well developed. Same for the dogs.

Cool, huh?

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