A new study by cognitive zoologists at Lund University in Sweden casts doubt on the notion that mammals first developed advanced cognitive abilities.
Much like walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, using a visual perspective means “seeing” through someone else’s eyes: we follow someone’s gaze to see what caught their attention, or we might even try to figure out what someone else is seeing. if we have kind of forbidden.
Researchers’ observations of crocodiles and birds have shown that perspective perception, which humans learn at age two, may have originated with dinosaurs 60 million years ago.
Several other species, mainly some monkeys, wolves, dogs, and some types of birds, exhibited visual perspective. Not much is known about how it developed.
Although mammals and birds have evolved 325 million years apart, they each independently developed similar cognitive abilities, and the visual perception of perspective has been observed in very few species, and researchers have suggested that it may have evolved multiple times.
In what they believe is the first study of its kind, the team compared ancient birds — birds that had brains very similar to their dinosaur ancestors — with crocodiles.
“Crocodiles are ideal models for studying the evolutionary origins of cognitive abilities in birds,” explains Stefan Rieber, a cognitive scientist at Lund University. “What they have in common can probably be found in a common ancestor of dinosaurs and crocodiles. that birds possess, they may have.”It evolved into the dinosaur lineage after the split. This approach allows us to study extinct species.”
The crocodile showed no visual perspective, although it did follow the demonstrator’s gaze in places it could see. However, all bird species tested clearly demonstrated visual perception of perspective, as evidenced by their ability to orientate themselves through the “eyes of an imaginary bird”.
“Birds are often overlooked when it comes to their cognitive abilities,” says Claudia Zetrog, first author of the study and cognitive animal scientist at Lund University. “Our results show that not only do they have many cognitive abilities on par with monkeys, but they also likely Their ancestors had these skills long before they evolved into mammals.”
Given the similarity in the brains of these birds and their non-avian ancestors, the scientists say this means that the skill of visual perspective reading may have evolved even earlier in dinosaurs.
It is unlikely that he existed among the oldest dinosaurs that had a crocodile-like brain.
And if the ability to perceive perspective did indeed appear earlier in the dinosaurs, this could explain the advanced visual abilities of birds, including their evolutionary dependence on vision compared to most mammals.
The study is published in the journal Science Advances.
Source: Science Alert