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Re: Big-brained birds evolve faster



http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/589461

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080814210006.htm

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.


Cheers,

--Mike


Michael Habib, M.S. PhD. Candidate Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution Johns Hopkins School of Medicine 1830 E. Monument Street Baltimore, MD 21205 (443) 280 0181 habib@jhmi.edu