Chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans are our closest relatives, and like us they have relatively large brains and they are very intelligent. But do animals with larger brains really perform better in cognitive tests? A research team from the German Primate Center (DPZ) — Leibniz Institute for Primate Research in Göttingen has for the first time systematically investigated the cognitive abilities of lemurs, which have relatively small brains compared to other primates. Conducting systematic tests with identical methods revealed that cognitive abilities of lemurs hardly differ from those of monkeys and great apes. Instead, this study revealed that the relationship between brain size and cognitive abilities cannot be generalized and it provides new insights into the evolution of cognitive abilities in primates.
Humans and non-human primates are among the most intelligent living beings. Their brain size may underly their intelligence as primates have relatively large brains in relation to their body size. For example, it is assumed that larger brains enable faster learning and better memory capacities. Within primates, however, species can differ up to 200-fold in brain size. A team of researchers from the German Primate Center (DPZ) has now investigated whether the cognitive performances of lemurs with their relatively small brains differ from those of other primates.
Materials provided by Deutsches Primatenzentrum (DPZ)/German Primate Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.