Why do some large animals have brains that are small?

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Human beings have huge brains for our body size. Our brains do a lot! We have lots of different body parts to control. We have language. We can read! We can sing, we can draw, we can tell complicated jokes and we can memorize long lists. Being a human being is a lot of work, and we have big brains that let us do it.

That's not to say that small brains are bad.  Insects have tiny brains, but experiments have shown that even with these very tiny brains, some insects can count, remember things, sort things into categories, and even recognize a person's face. That's pretty impressive for a bug!

Some larger animals, like colobus monkeys, have small brains for their body size, but it doesn't mean they are stupid. Animals have the brain sizes that they have because they are the brain sizes they need to survive in the world. Humans are big and need big brains. Bugs are small and can only fit a small brain in their heads.  Animals like the colobus monkey are social animals. They live in groups, and that helps scare off animals that might try to attack them. Chimpanzees, who might try to eat them, think twice before attacking a big group.  The colobus monkey doesn't need a big brain to have a happy, healthy life. It just needs to have a lot of friends around to keep it safe!

by   (whyzz writer)
  • Exploration


    Use your big brain and play a game of Memory.  Get a deck of cards, shuffle them and spread them out face-down on a table or on the floor.  Take turns picking up two cards at a time, trying to match the numbers on the cards.  If you pick up two 4s, you've got a match.  Take those cards and put them to the side.  If you pick up a Queen and a 7, that's not a match. Flip those cards back over and try again! 
    Keep playing until all the cards are matched! 

    Why do you think this game is called Memory? 
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