Big Brains

Humans have relatively big brains - even modern humans with our brains 25% smaller than that of a Neandertal.  Our eighty-six billion or so neurons sounds impressive compared to a fruit fly's 250,000, but maybe not so much so compared to the honeybee's roughly 1 million.  After all, we weigh about a million times as much as a honeybee, but our neuron count is less than 100,000 times larger.  So who's the real brainiac?  On an absolute size scale, our brains and neuron count are dwarfed by the brains of elephants and whales.  Numerous birds best us on the brain size to body size scale, as do many primates.

So why are we driving all them and perhaps ourselves to extinction, instead of vice-versa?  The answer probably lies in our exceptional capabilities to cooperate and in our technology.  Of course ants and bees are at least equally good at cooperation, but they are too small to control fire.  Fire is not available to whales either.

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