“Deep inside the skull of every one of us there is something like a brain of a crocodile” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos. In science, reptiles have been considered to be of lower intelligence compared to birds and mammals. Dimwitted, even. But over the last decade, significant research has been out in reptile cognition, and the results have been truly exhilarating. Mammals and birds are generally considered the intelligent class of animals. However, the basic brain structure in both these classes is similar to that of the reptilian brain, which diversified 280 million years ago. Reptiles and mammals are the only vertebrates to have a cerebral cortex with a clear, though simple, three-layered structure, similar to that of the mammalian allocortex. The reptilian ventral pallium gives rise to the dorsal ventricular ridge, which contributes to the complex cognitive abilities of birds. Although the reptilian cortex contains fewer subdivisions than mammals, the fundamental parts remain the same. It is subdivided into a medial cortex, better known as the hippocampus; a lateral cortex, equivalent to the mammalian piriform cortex; and a dorsal cortex which receives multimodal inputs (like the visual inputs in turtles). Perhaps there is no reason to not acknowledge the cognitive abilities in reptiles, as, since they evolved, there has been enough time for further evolution of the cognitive mechanisms. Besides, the basic brain structure of reptiles should also share behavioral and morphological similarities with mammals and birds. Charles Darwin, in his second book “The Descent of Man and Selection in…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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