[MARMAM] brain evolution

Louis Herman lherman at hawaii.edu
Thu Aug 24 19:30:27 PDT 2006

Aloha all:

A recent article by Paul Manger in Biological Review (2006, 81, 
293-338) posits that the evolution of big brains in the Cetacea was a 
response to ocean cooling in the Oligocene to provide for more 
efficient thermogenesis.  To bolster this hypothesis, Manger argues 
that the big brains of the cetaceans do not support advanced 
information processing capabilities (i.e., the increases in brain 
size were not a response to the need for and advantages of advanced 
information processing capabilities).  He argues further that, in 
fact, cetaceans, dolphins included, are not very intelligent after 
all, and critiques negatively several studies reporting advanced or 
special cognitive skills in dolphins.  Unfortunately, there has been 
extensive publicity the press and television about "dimwit dolphins" 
that are really no smarter than rats, etc.,  etc. You may have seen 
or heard some of these reports.   A problem is that Manger's review 
of the cognitive literature is limited and includes little of the 
large body of contemporary laboratory and field data showing advanced 
cognitive skills in dolphins.   For those who are interested, and 
request a copy, I can send a PDF of a chapter I recently published 
that reviews much of the contemporary laboratory data.  The reference 
is Herman, L. M. (2006). Intelligence and rational behaviour in the 
bottlenosed dolphin. In S. Hurley & M. Nudds (Eds.) Rational animals? 
Pp. 439-468.  Oxford University Press.     For recent relevant 
fieldwork on bottlenosed dolphins, I highly recommend the chapter by 
Richard Connor and Janet Mann, Social cognition in the wild: 
Machiavellian dolphins? Pp. 329-370, published in that same volume.

Louis (Lou) Herman
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