Study reveals that prehistoric mammals grew larger rather than developed larger brains in order to increase their prospects of survival after the dinosaurs had died out.
Researchers suggest that during the initial 10 million years following the extinction of the dinosaurs, mammals emphasized increasing their body size in order to adapt to the profound alterations in the animal world.
The volume of mammals’ brains, relative to their body weight, reduced after a devastating asteroid strike 66 million years ago which terminated the rule of dinosaurs, according to their results. After the extinction, it was commonly believed that the relative size of animals’ brains became larger.
As much as we know about contemporary mammals’ brains, it was previously unknown how they evolved during the first couple million years after the extinction event. Using CT scans on freshly found fossils from the Paleocene, a 10-million-year era after the disaster, researchers have thrown light on the riddle.
Because their bodies grew at a quicker pace than their brains, animals had smaller brains initially. According to the results of MRI scans, the animals depended primarily on their ability to smell, although their eyesight and other faculties were less established. To exist in the post-dinosaur era, the study thinks, it was originally more vital to be large than clever.
Primates and other early modern animal species started to acquire bigger minds and a more complicated set of cognitive and motor abilities some 10 million years later. The team believes this would have given them a better chance of surviving in a period when resource scarcity was much higher. It’s tempting to think that enormous brains assisted our predecessors to survive the demise of the dinosaurs since today’s animals are so sophisticated, but the researchers claim that’s not the case.
Mammals that succeeded the dinosaurs lacked intelligence, and it wasn’t until millions of years afterward, when species competed to build new habitats, that many different species of mammals developed larger brains.
The findings were published in Science.