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The social and cultural roots of whale and dolphin brains

Overview of attention for article published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, October 2017
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • One of the highest-scoring outputs from this source (#5 of 355)
  • 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
90 news outlets
blogs
15 blogs
twitter
355 tweeters
facebook
15 Facebook pages
googleplus
2 Google+ users

Readers on

mendeley
62 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 355 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 62 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 62 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 20 32%
Student > Master 11 18%
Other 7 11%
Researcher 7 11%
Student > Bachelor 6 10%
Other 11 18%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 30 48%
Psychology 8 13%
Environmental Science 6 10%
Engineering 4 6%
Unspecified 3 5%
Other 11 18%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 1075. 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 November 2017.
All research outputs
#1,716
of 8,671,006 outputs
Outputs from Nature Ecology & Evolution
#5
of 355 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#85
of 211,021 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Nature Ecology & Evolution
#1
of 89 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 8,671,006 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 355 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 138.3. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 98% 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 211,021 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 89 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.