“Bird brain” revision needed according to an article in Outside JEB 9 May 2018 doi:10.1242/jeb.170001 and Current Biology doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.01.036, 5 March 2018.

Birds have small brains without a cerebral cortex, the folded multilayered outer region of mammal brains that supposedly makes mammals smarter than other creatures.  Thus, the epithet “bird-brain” is used to insult someone’s intelligence.  However, recent research and long-term observations of bird watchers, show that birds are not at all stupid.  Some birds are capable of learning, problem solving, and tool use as cleverly as many mammals. Also, the vocal learning and song production of some song birds outdoes any mammal apart from human beings.

A team of scientists led by Steven Briscoe at the University of Chicago have studied the neurons (nerve cells) in a part of the bird brain named the mesopallium, which is thought to be the closest functional equivalent to the mammal cortex.  Rather than being arranged in layers the mesopallium consists of clusters of brain cells.

Briscoe’s team looked for genes that are active in neurones of the mesopallium and found the same distinctive pattern of gene expression in the cortex of a mouse in two regions in an alligator brain. Patterns of gene activity are a good indicator of what function a cell has.  According to Outside JEB “The research is fascinating as it suggests that birds and possibly primates evolved intelligence independently and that cortical neurons may be as ancient as the last common ancestor shared by birds and mammals.”

The Outside  JEB article is entitled “Birds and mammals share smartly designed neurons”.


Editorial Comment: The headline of the Outside JEB article is correct – bird and mammal neurons are smartly designed.  However, anyone who believes birds and mammals have smartly designed brain cells and then attributes that feature to random chance processes acting on some unknown common ancestor is deliberately dumb as!

The different arrangement of brain cells in birds and mammals is actually good evidence that birds and mammals have always been separate creations.  Like all creations, they are a unique combination of non-unique components.  Therefore, if God wanted to give intelligence to some birds and mammals, He gave them the appropriate brain cells.  Birds, mammals and alligators have smartly designed neurons simply because they were both created by a Smart Designer, who also gave human beings brains to observe the world around them and see the evidence of His handiwork, and give Him thanks and praise for all the wondrous things He has created.

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Evidence News vol. 18, No. 5
30 May 2018
Creation Research Australia