Are We Causing Animals to Grow Bigger Brains?

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Humans may be responsible for a jump in brain growth among mice and some other small mammals living around us in both urban and rural settings, a new study finds.


Small mammals that either produce a lot of babies or eat a lot of bugs exhibited the greatest cranial capacity (i.e. brain growth) due to human-caused environmental changes over the past century, suggests the study, which is published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“Small mammals with high fecundity (such as deer mice and meadow voles) show the most pronounced differences in cranial capacity between urban and rural environments, having larger cranial capacity in urban environments,” lead author Emilie Snell-Rood told Discovery News.

“Insect-feeding species, like bats and shrews, show the most pronounced response to rural environments, showing an increase in cranial capacity in rural populations over the last 90 years,” added Snell-Rood, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota.

Written By: Jennifer Viegas
continue to source article at news.discovery.com

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  1. And in other news…. it was found that the brain in increasing numbers of members of the species ‘homo sapiens’ was found to be shrinking at an alarming rate.This phenomenon baffled scientists for a while,but being scientists,they kept on working on the problem.Then just the other day:EUREKA !!! The reason for this disturbing trend was discovered.The reason, you ask,what was it? Not enough fish in the diet? A bad environment? A lack of love and attention?

    The reason was A LACK OF REASON and concomitantly the growth of that great evil FAITH. The growing trend among people to stop thinking for themselves, to ignore the manifold benefits that the ENLIGHTENMENT has brought us and the perverse proclivity to worship outdated and dangerous gods,to turn back to the dispensers of snake-oil and other ineffectual remedies.

    Scientists say that if this unhappy trend continues, it is probable that in some distant point in the future the descendants of the deer mice may very well overtake the human beings in brain size and power and thus inherit the earth……
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    • In reply to #2 by Christiana Magdalene Moodley:

      Scientists say that if this unhappy trend continues, it is probable that in some distant point in the future the descendants of the deer mice may very well overtake the human beings in brain size and power and thus inherit the earth……

      Hehe… Reminds me of the mice in Douglas Adam’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”. The mental image of a tiny mouse with a human size brain is hilarious. Just imagine how they would look wearing a motorcycle helmet.

  2. Really interesting finding. I remember reading an article once stating that domesticated animals ( as opposed to those simply living alongside humans) had significanyly smaller brains. The rationale being that they no longer required the intelligence needed to evade predators and seek out food. I think the examples given were the larger domesticated species. I’m fairly sure that the differences between wolves and their cousins the domestic dog were also shown as examples of this tendency.

  3. Just what is it about an urban environment that requires a bigger brain?

    1. more poisons, poisonous chemicals, plants unsuitable for eating
    2. traps
    3. fast moving cars
    4. the need to eat rotting food(select salely partly decomposed foot)

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