This Week in Science

May 1, 2016

You want to have a reference point of where to find the best recent scientific and technological breakthroughs? Here they are, in the weekly science compilations. Share them with friends and family, online or in real life. Enjoy!

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4 comments on “This Week in Science

  • Despite their small brains, ravens and crows may be just as clever as chimps, research suggests

    “Absolute brain size is not the whole story. We found that corvid birds performed as well as great apes, despite having much smaller brains,” says Can Kabadayi, doctoral student in Cognitive Science.

    Most organs in birds are scaled back to functional efficiency, in order to achieve minimum weight for performance in flight.

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  • The key factor appears to be the ratio of brain to body mass. A big body seemingly needs a lot of brain to control it, before we even get to the finer points of cleverness.

    It’s a bit like trying to judge the power of a computer by the size of the box it came in. You’ll also need a manufacturing date (at least).

    Birds have had a very long time to achieve high-performance brains with minimal mass, like they’re the “smartphones” of the biological world, while we’re descended from a long line of mainframes. To stretch an analogy way too far.

    As a matter of interest, what was the typical brain size of the last-common-ancestor of birds and mammals?

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