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Unearthing Human Intelligence

Let me ask you a question. How intelligent were the dinosaurs?  You all might say – ‘definitely not as intelligent as man’. And with walnut sized brains, i must agree they were really dumb. But studies have shown that troodon, the most intelligent dinosaur could have evolved into as intelligent and complex species as man himself.

Encephalization quotient is a measure of ratio of brain to body mass and in a way that reflects the intelligence of the species. Lets look at the Encephalization quotient of various animals.

Man – 7.44

Bottlenose Dolphin – 5.31

Orca (killer whale though actually a dolphin not a whale) – 2.57

Chimpanzee – 2.48

Elephant – 1.87

Whale –  1.76

Dog – 1.17

Cat – 1.00

It is pretty clear that the cetaceans (dolphin, whale etc) are almost as smart as humans and in some cases smarter than our ancestors. But indeed they ran out of luck when it comes to dexterity as they ended up in water and clearly you can’t read and write with your fins. Here i am specially highlighting dexterity as dexterity is something which would enable your brain to evolve as you start handling tools and eventually when the language was developed dexterity alone could help humans form a written format of the language. Even this dexterity was something which we got from our primate ancestors and which we didn’t earn it for ourselves. The monkeys made immense use of their fingers to grab branches of trees and thus even this is an evolved trait.

So by bragging about how intelligent humans are, aren’t we undermining the efforts of so many of our ancestors – reptilian mammals 65 million years ago, then the earliest primates 36 million years back ? Well maybe not. But surely, it was a matter of luck  and timing. What we have got now is not something we have earned but something which was GIFTED to us.

And how are we making use of this SPECIAL GIFT? Of course, full credit to humans for the various developments that have happened since the middle ages and in the past 200 years, man has changed a lot literally. Here, it would not be wrong to say that man has started evolving mentally and very less physically. But has that been of any help?

In the middle ages, man invested in technology only for war and weaponry.  Somewhere in between the Middle Ages and the modern era, man made a lot of important inventions and discoveries. As a result, we have all the comforts of modern technology in our day to day life. But how many of us have access to such a life?  The so called intelligent ones among us have very conveniently developed ways to earn wealth at the cost of others. Speaking about current usage of technology, nuclear fusion has not yet been used for generating electricity but it has already been used for constructing weapons of mass destruction.

Every year a large number of species are wiped out from the face of the earth because of human activities. The global climate change is very much evident now and threatens the very existence of human race. In many newly discovered geographies like Australia, man himself introduced a number of species for his own convenience. Then when he has found out that they are becoming a trouble for him, he has started culling a number of these animals and other animals. Man himself has been multiplying at an enormous rate depleting all the natural resources provided by Mother Nature.

It is not even a matter of superior intelligence but a matter of sheer common sense that we should not be hunting animals just for fun. In spite of man reaching a superior intelligence level man resorts to vulgar methods of entertainment like the infamous Seal hunting in Canada, where young seals are hammered to death.  In a way we are at the top of the food chain because of our intelligence levels. We are the APEX predators now. But is it not our responsibility to use our intelligence with discretion and not use our power for wasteful activities.

The evolution is an ongoing process. Man might go from strength to strength in terms of evolution but at the cost of other living species on the planet. And if sheer brain to body mass ratio is what is intelligence is, then my Question is ‘ Are we really that intelligent?’. It is for you to decide!!!!!

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  1. Dr. Strangelove
    August 6, 2010 at 9:56 am

    If Encephalization quotient matters so much, does it mean that obese people are dumb when compared to their smart pencil-thin counterparts? Interesting consequences it could lead to…

    • August 6, 2010 at 10:41 am

      I am happy that you came out with this question. The fact is, the body fat is also taken into account while calculating this. Whales and Dolphins have huge amount of fats stored which would have messed up their EQ. Also, there is some differentiation in the fat content in males and females also. I will let you know soon.

  2. Dr. Strangelove
    August 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Now I know where the expression “Charbi chadhi hai kya” comes from 🙂

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