(ORDO NEWS) — Theropods like Tyrannosaurus Rex actually had as many neurons in their brains as modern primates, according to a new study by scientists.
Comparing the brains of these predators with those of modern birds, the researchers calculated mathematically how many neurons could be housed in a theropod brain and concluded that they are capable of solving problems and using tools. So much for the “stupid” reptilian brain.
Soft tissues are quite difficult to find, so the researchers studied the fossilized brain of an animal.
Neuroscientist and study author Susana Herculano-Hozel decided to turn to the “dinosaurs” that survive to this day : modern birds.
In recent years, scientists have found that modern birds have densely packed neurons. This means that although their brains are tiny, they are actually quite cognitively developed.
Given that they are descendants of dinosaurs, scientists used an evolutionary tree to determine the likelihood of unknown traits in extinct organisms.
If we think along these lines, we can count how many neurons a bird, like an emu, has, and then increase the brain size and number of neurons to match the cranial cavity of a hippopotamus close in size to T. rex.
“You should have good reason to believe that the same proportionality that applies to birds applies to dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex.”
When Herculano-Huzel looked at theropods, it became clear that these animals had the same brain size as birds of the same size.
Thus, she argues that the same scaling rules apply to tyrannosaurus rex as to ostriches.
Using mathematical calculations, Herculano-Hauzel was able to estimate how many neurons a theropod like T. rex had, which turned out to be similar to modern primate neurons.
This means that they were not stupid and may have lived up to 40 years. Previous research by Herculano-Hozel showed that the number of neurons is related to lifespan.
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