What Size is an Ants Brain?
Using ants as models, a team of researchers has developed a new hypothesis about the size of the human brain. Their study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, explains how the size of the human brain might have decreased over time.
Currently, researchers believe the human brain contains over 86 billion neurons. However, experts estimate that the average ant brain contains approximately 250,000 neurons. This number pales in comparison to the human brain, which weighs about three pounds.
An ant brain is about one microlitre in volume. In comparison, the human brain is about 1.1 to 1.2 litres. In addition, the human brain has a ratio of brain to body mass of about 1:50. This ratio is comparable to other mammals.
The study found that the human brain’s size decreased about three thousand years ago. The decrease might be a result of the development of collective intelligence in human societies. It could also be linked to the development of better diets.
The study also looked at the development of the brain in insects. While the human brain evolved in size during the early evolution of the genus Homo, ants increased in size during the Pleistocene era.
In addition to using ants as models for human brain evolution, the researchers found that ants can provide insights into social evolution. For example, ants share some aspects of social organization with humans, such as the division of labor. However, ants have taken different routes to social evolution.