In “Dolphins, humans share ‘brainy’ genes” (Discovery News, 27 June 2012), Jennifer Viegas reports,
The new study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that certain genetic features have led to the convergent evolution of large brains and complex cognition in a handful of species, including dolphins and humans.
“It has long been realised that dolphins rank among the most intelligent mammals, and they can do many things that great apes can do such as mirror self-recognition, communication, mimicry, and cultural transmission,” says lead author Michael McGowen, adding that dolphin brains are also “distinct and different.”
And check out these Related Stories linked at the page:
Dolphin males share human social network, Science Online, 27 Jun 2012
Elephants smart as chimps, dolphins, Science Online, 08 Mar 2011
Whales closer to us than thought, Science Online, 23 Jun 2010
Like we said, there is no “tree of intelligence.” We find it where we find it.
McGowen is a researcher in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Evolution at Detroit’s Wayne State University School of Medicine. He and colleagues Lawrence Grossman and Derek Wildman compared approximately 10,000 protein coding genes from the dolphin genome with comparable genes from nine other animals: a cow, horse, dog, mouse, human, elephant, opossum, platypus and chicken. Out of that group, cows are most closely related to dolphins. The two animals are separated by 70 million years of history, however.
Similarities immediately became evident between dolphins, humans and elephants. All are animals known for their big brains and intelligence.
Squid are said to be pretty smart too. If they share the genes supporting a slow molecular rate, we will really be on to something.
Meanwhile, note once again the significance of convergent evolution – not evolving toward but converging on – the same solution, despite no close “common descent” relationship: The development and use of intelligence, irrespective of species.
See also: Convergent evolution: 359 million year old eel fossil had spine like land-dwellers
Yes, some researchers say, plants do talk to each other