↓ Skip to main content

The social and cultural roots of whale and dolphin brains

Overview of attention for article published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, October 2017
Altmetric Badge

About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • Among the highest-scoring outputs from this source (#31 of 1,474)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (98th percentile)

Mentioned by

news
92 news outlets
blogs
18 blogs
twitter
367 tweeters
facebook
17 Facebook pages
wikipedia
1 Wikipedia page
googleplus
2 Google+ users
reddit
1 Redditor
video
1 video uploader

Citations

dimensions_citation
61 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
266 Mendeley
Title
The social and cultural roots of whale and dolphin brains
Published in
Nature Ecology & Evolution, October 2017
DOI 10.1038/s41559-017-0336-y
Pubmed ID
Authors

Kieran C. R. Fox, Michael Muthukrishna, Susanne Shultz

Abstract

Encephalization, or brain expansion, underpins humans' sophisticated social cognition, including language, joint attention, shared goals, teaching, consensus decision-making and empathy. These abilities promote and stabilize cooperative social interactions, and have allowed us to create a 'cognitive' or 'cultural' niche and colonize almost every terrestrial ecosystem. Cetaceans (whales and dolphins) also have exceptionally large and anatomically sophisticated brains. Here, by evaluating a comprehensive database of brain size, social structures and cultural behaviours across cetacean species, we ask whether cetacean brains are similarly associated with a marine cultural niche. We show that cetacean encephalization is predicted by both social structure and by a quadratic relationship with group size. Moreover, brain size predicts the breadth of social and cultural behaviours, as well as ecological factors (diversity of prey types and to a lesser extent latitudinal range). The apparent coevolution of brains, social structure and behavioural richness of marine mammals provides a unique and striking parallel to the large brains and hyper-sociality of humans and other primates. Our results suggest that cetacean social cognition might similarly have arisen to provide the capacity to learn and use a diverse set of behavioural strategies in response to the challenges of social living.Cetaceans show a similar increase in brain size as is seen in human evolution. Here, this increase is shown to be linked to an expansion in the social and ecological niche.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 367 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 266 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 266 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 51 19%
Student > Ph. D. Student 50 19%
Researcher 36 14%
Student > Master 34 13%
Professor 15 6%
Other 45 17%
Unknown 35 13%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 101 38%
Environmental Science 23 9%
Psychology 22 8%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 19 7%
Neuroscience 12 5%
Other 43 16%
Unknown 46 17%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 1090. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 23 July 2021.
All research outputs
#8,515
of 19,602,522 outputs
Outputs from Nature Ecology & Evolution
#31
of 1,474 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#163
of 294,683 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Nature Ecology & Evolution
#2
of 99 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 19,602,522 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 1,474 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 155.2. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 294,683 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 99 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 98% of its contemporaries.