ABOVE: A female New Zealand Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala) perching on a branch in South Island

Birds that live on oceanic islands have bigger brains than their mainland counterparts, according to findings published yesterday (July 31) in Nature Communications

Researchers analysed the sizes of 11,554 brains belonging to 1,931 bird species. Island living can be isolating, forcing birds to problem-solve and develop larger brains. The differences in brain size between island and mainland birds may arise from evolution and may not be an indicator of colonization success, the researchers report.

F. Sayol et al., “Predictable evolution towards larger brains in birds colonizing oceanic islands,” Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/s41467-018-05280-8, 2018.

Interested in reading more?

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?