Science can land humans on the moon, help us better understand long term climate trends, shed light on how to fight diseases, and it can even answer age old questions like…who’s smarter, dogs or cats? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to find out.
Let's start with some broad range information on the topic. As of last year 79% of American households have domesticated dogs or cats as pets. While pet owners may certainly think that their respective companion is the cutest and smartest, a recent study can now officially conclude wether dogs or cars are the smarter pet. After all cats have the cunning and stealthy independent lifestyle that requires brain power, but dogs can be trained to sniff out bombs or be guides for folks with health disabilities. So, how can one determine who is capable of being more intelligent?
To reach this conclusion researchers recently counted up the neurons in the brains of cats and dogs. Neurons are the cellular structures by which the brain transmits and processes information. The more neurons, the more cerebral connections and thus the ability to process more information.
Despite a few cases here and there, we humans are the most intelligent creature on Earth with our whopping 16 billion neurons in our cerebral cortex. Our distant cousins, the false Killer whale has 10.5 billion neurons and some of our closest relatives, Orangutans, have about 8 billion. But what about dogs and cats?
Well, with all due respect to dog and cat owners alike, the scientific results are in and they’re giving the intellectual advantage to dogs. The k-9 brain and it’s 530 million neurons can simply out process the 250 million neurons found in feline brains. Interestingly enough raccoons also have about the same amount of neurons as dogs. Perhaps they could serve as good guide animals or be trained for police or army use? Maybe Rocket the raccoon from Guardians of The Galaxy is not as much of a stretch as one would have thought.
This discovery also helps scientists better understand that while hunting requires a fair amount of intelligence, avoiding being hunted and other life survival tasks also requires a good amount of brain power. Another excellent example of how science can help us better understand the many various aspects of our natural world. Be sure to consider all this information the next time you see your cuddly house companion.
Dog owners, of course, find this to be good news while cat owners thought this news was pretty ruff.