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Feb 14, 2019

Are Whales Smarter Than We Are?

Posted by in categories: biological, neuroscience

Circa 2008


“Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges.” Herman Melville.

Call me Ishmael for making conjectures unflattering to humankind, but could Moby Dick have been smarter than captain Ahab? Melville certainly seemed to think so. Moby clipped off one of the captain’s legs and then, years later, in a brilliant move of cetacean jujitsu, drowned poor Ahab by towing him into the abyss by the harpoon rope tangled around Ahab’s remaining leg. “From Hell’s heart I stab at thee!” Gulp. We humans pride ourselves on our big brains. We never seem to tire of bragging about how our supreme intelligence empowers us to lord over all other animals on the planet. Yet the biological facts don’t quite square with Homo sapiens’ arrogance. The fact is, people do not have the largest brains on the planet, either in absolute size or in proportion to body size. Whales, not people, have the biggest brains of any animal on earth.

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