Dogs versus cats. It’s the great question of our time. Well at least for me; I have really good air con and hence don’t get out a whole lot. The arguments are familiar: dogs save lives, help those with disabilities, detect bombs, and star in iconic pieces of cinema like Air Bud. Cats give you that look where you just know that they know you are a piece of shit.
Except, it’s turns out that’s probably not true. Well, maybe not the stuff about you being a piece of shit, I don’t know you.
Biological scientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel of Nashville’s Vanderbilt University has been leading research into how smart animals actually are. (Not all heroes wear capes.) Using anatomical data, she and her colleagues counted the neurons in the cerebral cortex of cats and dogs, along with those in ferrets, raccoons, hyenas, lions, brown bears, and mongeese. For anyone out there not up to speed on biology — cortical neurons indicate higher brain function. The more you have, the smarter you are.
They were actually looking into whether carnivores have more developed brains than herbivores, but who cares about that, let’s get to the woofers and kitties.
Cats were shown to have 250 million cortical neurons — doesn’t sound too bad. Until you read on and realise that dogs have more than double that with 530 million. Lashed.
Herculano-Houzel kind of brutally explains things like this: “Our findings mean to me that dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can.”
For comparison, humans have 16 billion cortical neurons, so the bright side is there will be no Planet of the Apes-style doggo-uprising any time soon.
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