NOV 15, 2016 10:23 AM PST

Are Birds Getting Smarter Because of Hunters?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Birds are just one of the many kinds of animals that humans hunt, and it turns out that human hunting may actually be making birds smarter.
 

Hunting may actually be making birds smarter by eliminating the less intelligent ones.

 Image Credit: iStockphoto

The idea has been studied in depth by taking a look at bird hunting records from Denmark, and the results of the study have been published in the journal Biology Letters. The source of the data was clever, as Denmark requires taxidermists to keep records of their hunted.
 
Among the species that were examined were hooded crows, magpies, partridges, and pheasants, among others. Despite the diversity in species, the researchers who conducted the study seemed to notice one thing alike when comparing the brains of all those killed by hunters’ rifles: they were small compared to their body size.
 
Think about this for a moment: smarter birds are going to stay far away from known hunting zones and avoid places where they’re wide open for attack, while dimmer ones are going to go out into those zones, unknowingly or carelessly, where they’ll be attacked and likely killed by hunters.
 
What does that leave you with? A whole lot of dead dim birds and living smart birds. So what happens next? The smart birds all mate together, potentially producing even more smart birds as the dimmer ones are slowly expelled from existence.
 
What’s more is the researchers have also deduced that a bird having a larger brain reduces its chances of getting shot from hunting by up to 30 times.
 
It’s worth noting that it’s not always the size of the brain that makes up the intelligence of a creature, as the wrinkles of the brain are known to have a much more important effect on intelligence.
 
As you can imagine, there are a number of nay-sayers; not everyone is on board with the theory and the research results.
 
“The study is intriguing, but I will remain a bit skeptical because it is based on a comparative long-term data set and not an experiment,” says population ecologist Jesper Madsen. “To conclude that hunting selects for larger brains requires more than a correlational study.”
 
Nevertheless, it’s an interesting theory and it’s equally as mind boggling that the same brain size patterns span across multiple species. It brings up a lot of questions about the future of hunting and where bird intelligence is headed in the future.
 
Source: Science Magazine

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 02, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 02, 2019
Do Tortoises Enjoy Being Touched by People?
Tortoises are one of nature’s most conspicuous animals – large reptiles that carry massive shells that protect their sluggish bodies from damag...
DEC 08, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 08, 2019
Female Baboons Avoid Mating When STDs Are Involved
In the animal kingdom, wild creatures are quite literally hard-wired to locate suitable mates and work as quickly as possible to ensure reproductive succes...
DEC 15, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 15, 2019
For Squirrels, Benefits to Moving Away From Home Are Sex-Dependent
When squirrels grow up, they often face the tough choice of staying at or near the same location where they were born or moving on to bigger and better pla...
FEB 09, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 09, 2020
Lightning Strike Kills Four Endangered Mountain Gorillas in Uganda
While perusing the confines of the Mgahinga National Park in Uganda earlier this month, a team of conservationists were unlucky enough to discover four dec...
FEB 11, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 11, 2020
How the World's Fastest Cat Compares to the World's Fastest Dog
Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animal; their powerful hind legs give them incredible launching power and their stretchy spines provide a massi...
FEB 16, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 16, 2020
These Jellyfish Deliver Stings Without Touching You
Most people are accustomed to thinking that if you avoid a jellyfish’s tentacles while swimming in the ocean, then you won’t be stung. For the...
Loading Comments...