Monkeys and apes who are good at deceiving their peers also have the biggest brains relative to their body size. The finding backs the “Machiavellian intelligence” theory.

Of all the terrestrial mammals, primates have by far the largest brains relative to their body size, with humans having the largest of all. The enlargement is almost exclusively in the neocortex, which makes up more than 80% of the mass of the human brain.



Large brains, despite being energetically costly, benefited primates because they conferred complex cognitive skills. But which skills were the priority – was it clever food-finding strategies that were most valuable, for example, or complex social skills?



Earlier studies have hinted that social abilities were the key. And now Richard Byrne and Nadia Corp, psychologists at St Andrews University in the UK, have found more direct evidence for this after studying records of primates deceiving each other for personal gain.



More here.

0