Wild cat brains: An evolutionary curveball

The brains of wild cats don’t necessarily respond to the same evolutionary pressures as those of their fellow mammals, humans and primates, indicates a surprising new study led by a Michigan State University neuroscientist. Arguably, the fact that people and monkeys have particularly large frontal lobes is linked to their social nature. But cheetahs are also social creatures and their frontal lobes are relatively small. And leopards are solitary beasts, yet their frontal lobes are actually enlarged. So what gives? Sharleen Sakai, lead investigator of the National Science Foundation-funded research, said the findings suggest that multiple factors beyond sociality may influence brain anatomy in carnivores. “Studying feline brain evolution has been a bit like herding cats,” said Sakai, MSU professor of psychology and neuroscience. “Our findings suggest the factors that…


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