The existing coverage of this study from Oxford is one reason I write this blog. Most media outlets are stating this study proves dogs are smarter than cats (dumb) and they’re including polls for you to vote on whether you agree (dumber).
Update: Yea! Sophia Yin over at Huffington Post writes a smart article on the study.
The study actually shows something I think is much more interesting. Socializing led to bigger brains in some mammals. The brains of mammals that live in groups like monkeys, horses, dolphins, camels, & dogs grew the most over time, while the brains of more solitary mammals like cats, rhinos, & deer grew much more slowly. Scientists previously believed that brain size had increased at relatively the same rate across species. Being a social being requires enough extra work that brains actually increased in size.
So, the study does show that dog brains have increased in size more dramatically that cats, but for reporters to say dogs are smarter than cats is meaningless. Smarter how? About catching prey? Avoiding detection? Getting humans to do what they want? Surviving alone? It annoys me that reporters dumb down studies and reduce them to some stupid poll that doesn’t mean anything. So one of the reasons I write this blog? I think you (& I) are smarter than that.