(ORDO NEWS) — Neuroscientist Susana Herculano-Housel of Vanderbilt University has shown that the brains of some dinosaurs contained about the same number of neurons as the brains of modern primates.
The Tyrannosaurus rex probably had as many neurons as the modern baboon.
In her work, neuroscientist Susana Herculano-Hauzel showed that some dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus rex, may have had an intelligence similar to that of a modern baboon.
Until recently, modern science represented dinosaurs as huge lizards. They don’t have many neurons. But in recent years, some paleontologists have begun to rethink such estimates.
There have been well-founded suggestions that different types of dinosaurs probably had different levels of intelligence.
Birds told how many neurons dinosaurs had
Herculano-Housel began her research by reviewing the latest biologists’ work on the brains of birds, which, of course, descended from dinosaurs.
It turned out that the brain of birds contains many more neurons than was thought until recently.
The brains of birds are relatively small, but their neurons are very small and densely packed into clusters. That is, there are many neurons.
This observation led Herculano-Housel to wonder if dinosaurs were smarter than previously thought. And she used the evolutionary tree of modern birds to “descent” into the depths of history.
This approach will allow her to estimate how many neurons were in the brains of different dinosaur species, based on proportionality considerations.
Herculano-Housel broke the dinosaurs into separate groups with different levels of intelligence. She then concluded that the ratio of neurons to brain size in Tyrannosaurus Rex would likely be about the same as modern large birds such as emus or ostriches.
But the brain of a Tyrannosaurus rex is much larger. Based on the proportions, the researcher came to the conclusion that the number of neurons in the forebrain of a Tyrannosaurus rex is approximately equal to their number in some modern primates, such as baboons.
Herculano-Hauzel notes that tyrannosaurs were long-lived – many of them lived 40 years or longer. If they were that smart, they might well have developed skills in problem solving and tool use. But they didn’t have enough time.
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