On Crocodile Brains….

Michael Pritz of Indiana University School of Medicine gave yesterday’s regular Monday Krasnow seminar and it was fascinating. The basic questions were at the intersection of evolution and development (in biology we call this “Evo-Devo”) and basically got to the question of what are the points in the development of a brain that evolution can act upon through selection to produce new species with new brain capabilities.

Pritz’s experimental animal is the croc. Turns out crocodiles are very closely related phylogenetically to birds and….birds have remarkable cognitive capabilities with brains that have a radically different architecture from our own mammalian variety.

Evolution remains central to the scientific explorations at the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study. Our impressive brains –the human ones in our heads–are themselves the product of evolution and hence, for all their amazing capabilities, have plenty of bugs. They weren’t engineered after all.