[MARMAM] brain evolution
lherman at hawaii.edu
Thu Aug 24 19:30:27 PDT 2006
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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