It’s official, scientists have confirmed that dogs are smarter than cats after literally counting the individual neurons in their brain and finding they have “significantly more”.
The team of heroes (who admit that they are canine lovers, but we’ll ignore that) found that although dog’s brains aren’t larger, they have more than double the little grey cells that are considered hallmarks of intelligence.
Dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons while cats have about 250 million.
The study, from Vanderbilt University, USA, is the first to actually painstakingly count the number of cortical neurons in the brain - the components associated with thinking, planning and complex behaviour.
Associate Professor, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, who pioneered the method for determining the number of neurons in brains, said: “I believe the absolute number of neurons an animal has, determines the richness of their internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience.”
So that’s why the dog knows what the packed suitcase by the front door means.
This also means they have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can, which doesn’t explain why they’re always trying to stick their head in the bin.
They also looked at the brains of one or two specimens from each of eight carnivoran species: ferret, mongoose, raccoon, cat, dog, hyena, lion and brown bear.
They also found that the brain of a golden retriever has more neurons than a hyena, lion or brown bear, even though the bigger predators have brains up to three times as large.
The team were working on the theory that domesticated animals have smaller brains than their wild cousins, and that carnivores have bigger brains than herbivores.
This is because wild carnivores need bigger brains than herbivores for hunting, as tracking prey is demanding, cognitively speaking, and requires planning.
The study’s findings also challenge the prevailing view that domesticated animals have smaller brains than their wild cousins.