Thursday, May 8, 2014

What smart animals are teaching scientists

“Up until a million years ago, the brainiest species were dolphins and whales,” says Lori Marino, an Emory neuroscientist who studies these marine mammals. “We are just a very recent kid on the block.”

Marino is featured in a new NOVA series called “Inside Animal Minds,” which is exploring what makes an animal smart.

“The six million dollar question is how dolphins and whales got such large brains,” says Marino, who is examining fossil skulls for clues about how complex cognition involved in cetaceans.

Research into many species is showing that animals may be more like us than we ever thought possible.

Other Emory scientists featured in the series include primatologist Frans de Waal and neuroscientist Gregory Berns, who is researching the minds of dogs through the use of fMRI. Emory graduate Brian Hare, who is exploring the canine brain through behavioral studies, is also part of the series.

Visit the NOVA site to see the complete series.

And check out the Spring 2014 issue of Emory Magazine, which is focused on what we can learn from animals.

Should killer whales be captive?
What is your dog thinking? Brain scans unleash canine secrets
Asian elephants are huggers, reassuring others in distress

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