Millions of Americans have pets, and it’s not uncommon to hear dog and cat lovers arguing over which species is more intelligent. Regardless of preference, the oft-debated question may have finally been answered by scientists: and it is not looking good for feline fans. A study out of Vanderbilt University sought to examine the minds of various Carnivora, which is an order of species containing sharp teeth designed for the consumption of other animals.
What they found was that canines had a significantly higher cortical neuron to brain mass ratio and more complexly structured minds compared to other Carnivora, including cats. Cortical centers are responsible for producing evolutionarily advanced behaviors, such as innovative thinking and decision making. The results, therefore, indicate that dogs have higher levels of intelligence than cats.
Perhaps the wit of our favorite pet is the reason we call them man’s best friend. As noted by Liberty Nation’s Tim Donner, canines were domesticated to offer humankind an abundance of benefits, which was made possible by their advanced minds. They have 300 million olfactory receptors compared to our measly six million, meaning their sense of smell is about 40 times superior, according to PBS. For this reason, dogs are often trained in drug and bomb detection by the military and law enforcement agencies.
Furthermore, canines can be useful therapy aids. According to the prestigious scientific journal The Royal Society, pups are genetically wired to evaluate and respond to emotional cues, rendering them invaluable for mental health. In fact, Medical Daily reports that owning a dog has been shown to decrease anxiety levels and reduce depression symptoms in military veterans and sexual abuse victims suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The exceptional services offered may lead readers to ask if their furry friends are more intelligent than previously evaluated. However, there is no reason to fear the development of a Planet of the Pups, as the minds of humans are far more advanced, with a larger ratio of cortical neurons to brain size and extraordinarily complex arrangement of sulci and folds. Furthermore, we contain considerable amounts of white matter in particular brain regions, creating enhanced abilities to form connections and efficiently process information, according to Smithsonian.
Although researchers seem to have settled the debate between the smarter species, feline lovers should not fret. Americans are an animal loving people, owning a variety ranging from teacup pigs to goldfish. Incidentally, the pet industry comprises an annual $100 million and is “virtually recession resistant,” according to Sage Business. Regardless of their competencies, animals who offer their unconditional love and comfort are welcome in homes across the U.S.
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