|Tigers are 'brainier' than lions
The Telegraph, UK, 2nd September, 2009
Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
As the King of the Jungle, the lion may have the brawn, but it is the tiger that has the brains, claim scientists.
have discovered that the tiger has a far bigger brain than its big cat
rival, even though it is often seen as lower down the food chain.
team of zoologists at Oxford University compared the brain cavity in
the skulls of both animals and found tigers are 16 per cent bigger than
lions, leopards and jaguars.
In evolutionary terms, brain size has usually been linked to intelligence.
have always thought that social species, such as lions, should have
larger brains than solitary species, such as tigers, because of the
need to handle a more complex social life within groups or prides.
we had not expected is that the tiger has clearly much bigger relative
brain size than do the other three species, which all have similar
relative brain sizes,” said Dr Nobby Yamaguchi, the author of the study
at Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.
we compare the two biggest species, on average, the lion has a bigger
skull than the tiger based on the greatest length of the skull.
the tiger has bigger cranial volume than the lion. It is truly amazing
that tiny female Balinese tiger skulls have cranial volumes as large as
those of huge male southern African lion skulls.
“Unfortunately we have no other evidence to suggest that tigers are more intelligent than lions.”
team studied the skulls of 370 lions, 225 tigers, 32 jaguars, and 42
leopards from museums around the world for the research that was
published in Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.
investigated the relationship between the skull size – the longest
length between the front and back parts of the skull – and the volume
inside the cats’ respective craniums.
They concluded that the
tigers have a relatively bigger brain (around 16 per cent larger) than
lions, given their very similar average body sizes.
leopards and jaguars have almost identically sized brains to lions
which makes tigers the odd one out as they shared a common ancestor
around 3.7 million years ago.
Now the researchers want to find
out which parts of the tiger’s mind are bigger than lions to try to
determine why it needs so much brain power.
Dr Yamaguchi said despite the disparity in brain size, the lion remained at the top of the food chain.
lions are in groups they just beat up solitary animals like tigers -
but then maybe tigers are intelligent enough to stay out of their way.”