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Who's Smarter, Dogs or Cats? Science Now Has the Answer

Who's Smarter, Dogs or Cats? Science Now Has the Answer

Researchers at Vanderbilt University in the USA state of Tennessee recently studied the brains of several meat-eating mammals, including dogs, cats, lions, raccoons and bears. And raccoons, despite their smaller brain size, had nearly as many neurons in their cerebral cortex as dogs.

The first study to actually count the number of cortical neurons in the brains of a number of carnivores, including cats and dogs, has found that dogs possess significantly more of them than cats. So dogs have around 530 million neurons whereas cats have half of it which is around 250 million. But a new study may have found a clear victor when it comes to which animal is more intelligent: dogs.

"We did not study their behavior, so we can not (and do not) make any claims about how intelligent they are", researcher Suzana Herculano-Houzel, an associate professor at Vanderbilt University, told HuffPost in an email.

The results of the study became a trending topic on social media Thursday.

There's a new twist in the age-old argument over whether cats are smarter than dogs, or vice versa.

Our findings showed that dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can " said Suzana Herculano-Houzel, Professor at the Universidade Federal, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. They found that bears had about as many neurons as cats - despite having much bigger brains. "They have cat-sized brains, but with dog-like numbers of neurons, which places them on par with primates, who as a whole have lots of neurons crammed in small brains".

So why all the headlines declaring dogs are smarter?

This doesn't necessarily mean that every dog is smarter than every cat.

The researchers also learned that the domesticated animals in the test group (dogs, cats, ferrets) have similar brain to body weight ratios as the wild animals in the group.

In other words, she said, the study suggests that dogs have the "biological capability" for more complex and flexible behavior than cats.

According to the neuroscientist, studying the brains of different species teaches an important lesson: "Diversity is enormous. Yes, there are recognizable patterns, but there are multiple ways that nature has found of putting brains together-and we're trying to figure out what difference that makes".


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