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Re: Big-brained birds evolve faster
A neat paper. I've only had a chance to go throw it quickly, thus far.
I'll give it a closer read when opportunity arises. My first
impression, though, is that the dataset is strong and the analyses well
conceived, but the conclusion may be a bit hasty. Specifically, the
correlation with brain size may be a result of control system
differences rather than the kind of cognitive function that the authors
suspect. Either one would make sense, and it's not clear (to me, at
least) why one would be favored over the other. Work on brain size and
planform in bats has demonstrated that more highly maneuvered,
low-loading morphologies are associated with larger brains (and that
this appears to be related to flight control and sensory perception).
There may be something similar happening in birds. I'm curious to hear
what others think.
Michael Habib, M.S.
Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
1830 E. Monument Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
(443) 280 0181