Dogs vs cats: Scientist reveals which one of our furry friends is the SMARTEST
Dog owners and cat owners may often disagree about which is the smartest – but it seems that one scientist has a definitive answer.
According to neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel from Vanderbilt University , it’s the canines that come out on top.
Studies have shown that dogs have about 530 million neurons that calculate behaviour whilst cats can only manage 250 million.
So while cat owners may disagree, it seems that Fido and Rover have the upper hand when it comes to brains.
“I believe the absolute number of neurons an animal has, especially in the cerebral cortex, determines the richness of their internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience,” explained Herculano-Houzel.
What’s interesting is that even though dogs don’t have the biggest brains, they actually have the most neurons of any carnivore.
While a brown bear has a far larger brain, it only has about the same amount of neurons as a cat.
“I’m 100 per cent a dog person,” Herculano-Houzel added.
“But, with that disclaimer, 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.”
The researchers analysed brains of one or two specimens of various carnivores: ferret, mongoose, raccoon, cat, dog, hyena, lion and the brown bear.
They found the ratio of neurons to brain size in small and medium-sized carnivores was similar to herbivores, suggesting there’s as much evolutionary pressure on one as the other. While the carnivores need to develop to find prey, the herbivores need to escape from predators.
“Meat eating is largely considered a problem-solver in terms of energy, but, in retrospect, it is clear that carnivory must impose a delicate balance between how much brain and body a species can afford,” said Herculano-Houzel.