It is well-known that marine mammals are intelligent, and live social lives quite similar to those of humans. Now, researchers discovered brain size correlates with the degree of sociability in the lives of whales and dolphins. The more intelligent the animals are, the more likely they are to be part of large groups.
Marine mammals have social skills similar to those of humans
Whales and dolphins are part of big social groups, where they communicate with each other, cooperate when it comes to food sharing, and even have different ways of talking depending on the regions where they live. In other words, they share many of their social traits with humans. However, scientists haven’t explored the links between intelligence and social behavior until now.
In the study, published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, researchers explored the complex social behaviors exhibited by whales and dolphins, and discovered the extent of these behaviors can easily be linked to a higher intelligence. After analyzing a number of 90 species, researchers reached a conclusion. The brain of marine mammals evolved to help them tackle the challenges of social life.
The dolphin brain is still different from a human brain
Social relations helped humans to spread their populations and to gain control of many ecosystems existent on the planet. Marine mammals have extensive underwater colonies as well, and this might be given by their impressive brain structure and size. However, the things that keep them back from reaching a more advanced state of civilization are incredibly simple: opposable thumbs.
The evolution of opposable thumbs is related to our brains reaching the ultimate size and development, a process called encephalization. However, scientists argue that the brains of marine mammals, although advanced, are still not made for that level of cognition. The brain structure of this animals is still quite different from ours, leading to further questions. Now, researchers are trying to find out how animals with a different anatomy of the brain can reach similar levels of social development.
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