T-rex was as smart as the modern day primates, study claims

"Until now, we didn’t have any idea of the possible number of neurons dinosaurs could have.”
Nergis Firtina
Tyrannosaurus rex.
Tyrannosaurus rex.

Warpaintcobra/iStock 

Vanderbilt University researchers’ new study suggests that some dinosaur brains were as densely packed with neurons as modern primates. This means some of the dinosaurs were smarter than we thought.

The study says that the dinosaur's brain may have had enough neurons to create cultures and solve problems, according to The Washington Post.

Published in the Journal of Comparative Neurology, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, neuroscientist and biologist at Vanderbilt University, gave information about the study on Twitter.

As per Herculano-Houzel, that's a level of brain cells comparable to baboons, which could lead to theropods.

Similar to baboon brain

The latest study adds to a growing body of evidence indicating that the T-rex was more than just a massive brute. It appears to have been a gregarious animal that hunted in groups. According to Herculano-Houzel, the T-rex's brain may have contained 3 billion neurons, similar to a baboon's brain.

CT scans for dinosaur skulls

As Science reported, Herculano-Houzel created an equation connecting an animal's brain mass with the approximate amount of neurons in the cerebrum, which includes the cortex, based on estimated brain masses obtained with CT scans of dinosaur skulls and a sizable database of brain masses of birds and reptiles from the previous year.

“It’s awesome, quite frankly, to be able to get these numbers for these amazing creatures that don’t exist anymore and to be able to add something to the puzzle of what their lives were like … before the asteroid,” Herculano-Houzel says.

The report, according to experts, has a strong thesis. “Until now, we didn’t have any idea of the possible number of neurons dinosaurs could have,” says Fabien Knoll, a paleontologist with the Aragonese Foundation for Research and Development atDinópolis, a paleontological museum in Teruel, Spain.

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“It’s really refreshing to actually have a neurologist looking at paleontological data,” adds Stig Walsh, senior curator of vertebrate paleobiology at the National Museums Scotland, also not involved with the work. Still, he says, it’s “an awful lot of conclusions or suggestions based on what’s essentially one single extrapolation.