Science
Published: Jan 16, 2007
Study: Big-Brained Birds Survive Better
by UPI


A British-led study has found birds with brains that are large in relation to their body size have a lower mortality rate than those with smaller brains.

The researchers say their findings provide the first evidence for what is called the "cognitive buffer" hypothesis -- the idea that having a large brain enables animals to have more flexible behaviors and survive environmental challenges.

The scientists from the University of Bath, Spain's Autonomous University of Barcelona, Hungary's Pannon University and Canada's McGill University compared the brain size, body mass and mortality rates in more than 200 species of birds from polar, temperate and tropical regions.

They found birds with larger brains relative to body size survived better in nature than birds with small brains.

"The idea that large brains are associated with reduced mortality has never been scientifically tested," said Tamas Szekely of the University of Bath. "Our findings suggest that large-brained animals might be better prepared to cope with environmental challenges such as climate change and habitat destruction."

The research appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. (c) UPI

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