Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The true 'braininess' of animals

I just read something really interesting in Richard Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker, which I thought I would share with you; it concerns the 'encephalization quotient' or EQ, as worked out and used by Harry Jerison, according to Dawkins, a "leading authority on brain history".

He calculates the EQ in a rather complicated way, so as to eliminate the relative factors of brain and body weight, which suggests the amount of brain 'computing power' left over, after removing the amount of brain required for routine body maintenance; e.g. a whale has a huge body mass, and therefore a huge brain, but this does not mean that all of its brain gets used for computing or thinking, because most of the brain gets taken up just routinely maintaining the body!

Humans have an EQ of 7 according to this measure.
Monkeys are well above average, and apes (including ourselves) even higher.
Squirrels have an EQ of about 1.5, somewhat above...
Rats have an EQ of O.8, slightly below the average for all mammals.
Hippos have an EQ of O.3 (but this may not necessarily mean that humans are 23 times as clever as hippos!).

Unfortunately, no more data on particular species available, but if anyone would care to research these, it might prove really interesting! ;-))

Here's your Daily Poem from the Poetry Chaikhana --

The monkey is reaching
By Hakuin(1686 - 1768)
English version by Norman Waddell

The monkey is reaching
For the moon in the water.
Until death overtakes him
He'll never give up.
If he'd let go the branch and
Disappear in the deep pool,
The whole world would shine
With dazzling pureness.


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