Saturday, March 2, 2013

Brain Size vs Function, Part 1

A recent PBS special has pointed out that big is not necessarily better when it comes to brain function. Studies have shown that the ability to makes tools requires a high level of thinking. So far, this ability has been identified in humans, elephants, chimpanzees—and crows, especially a group of crows indigenous to New Zealand. Relatively speaking, crows have very tiny brains. Nevertheless, they can figure out how to make a tool to make another tool to get food. They also can learn ways to adapt to change, which they teach to their offspring, that in turn pass the knowledge to the next generation. Not only that, they have a fairly sophisticaed family system. A pair, mated for life, rely on extended family members to help feed, protect, and teach the fledglings. Because their tiny brains appear to function much the same as chimps, researchers have referred to crows as “feathered apes.”

No comments: