Will the intrusion of cities into the natural environment cause birds to become brainier? That appears to be the case, say a passel of ecologists in the April 27 issue of Biology Letters.
(This story has no implications for humans. Really. It just illustrates a principle that might possibly generalize to other animals. Including apes? Uh … move along, nothing to see here.)
The ecologists studied passerines, i.e. songbirds, and discovered that those with the largest brains tended to colonize cities. We could think of some alternate hypotheses to explain the phenomenon, but they argue that their data fit with other research that suggests that having a big brain makes species better able to survive in novel and changing environments.
So those pigeons on the corner, squabbling over the discarded remains of someone's KFC bucket? GENIUSES.
Brains and the city: big-brained passerine birds succeed in urban environments, Biology Letters.