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New study suggests that being smarter is a defense against extinction

In “Mostly the Big-Brained Survive” (Scientific American, July 17, 2012), Emma Marris and Nature magazine report, “Animals’ brain-to-body size ratio predicts their likelihood of extinction, a new analysis finds”:

Brain size relative to body size is fairly predictable across all mammals, says Eric Abelson, who studies biological sciences at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. “As body size grows, brain size grows too, but at slower rate,” he says. Plotting brain size against body size creates a tidy curve. But some species have bigger or smaller brains than the curve would predict for their body size. And a bigger brain-to-body-size ratio usually means a smarter animal.

Abelson looked at the sizes of such deviations from the curve and their relationships to the fates of two groups of mammalian species — ‘palaeo’ and ‘modern’. The palaeo group contained 229 species in the order Carnivora from the last 40 million years, about half of which are already extinct. The modern group contained 147 species of North American mammals across 6 orders. Analysis of each group produced similar results: species that weighed less than 10 kilograms and had big brains for their body size were less likely to have gone extinct or be placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list for endangered species.

Perhaps this information might help predict the ability of a life form to adapt to an urban environment.

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4 Responses to New study suggests that being smarter is a defense against extinction

  1. 1

    So, the AIDs virus must have an occult brain, because it is very fitted for survival . Even it can infect humans treated with the most advanced chemicals designed intelligently by human´s brains

  2. AIDS would be fitted for survival if it didn’t kill its hosts. Ya see once the hosts dies all viruses left in the host will also die.

    So it would be the smart virus that lived with us in harmony.

  3. 3

    So, Joe,the AIDs virus is not as much fitted then, like men, but this last animal is going to suicide with climate change or somehow before the termal death of the universe. So, man or viruses are similarly bad designed in that respect (in almost all, famous darwinist Ayala says). So the scientist team has made a mistake, anyway. Bigger brain = the most stupid animal.

  4. That’s what happens when darwinain processes enter a good design. Also the climate changes, that is what it does.

    But anyway, the point of the article would be it is easier to adapt by changing one’s behaviour then to sit around and wait for some accumulations of random mutations to do it for you- that is if you have the brains to make that change.

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