Animal brains come in all shapes and sizes. The size of the brain is loosely linked to function. However, this does not mean that a large brain necessarily means more intelligence. It seems our brain to body ratio is a better indicator of intelligence, or in other words, how much of our body the brain takes up. Looking at brains in this way shows dolphins to be one of the most intelligent animals around.
Surprisingly some animals you would not expect have unusual brains, or brains which are very large in comparison to their body size. Squid’s brains are doughnut shaped, with the oesophagus running down the middle. Weirdly, this means that all the food it eats travels through a tube down the middle of the brain!
Spiders have brains which are very large in proportion to their body. Some of them are also strange shapes – with the brain overflowing into their legs, and other parts of the body! On the other hand, koala brains are relatively small in comparison to their body size. It is a good job that they are. Their diet is so poor that they would not have enough energy to run a bigger brain!!
GCSE biologists, if you need help with understanding the structure of the brain, try our new guide “How to work with the Nervous System: Part 2”. It includes an explanation of what the main parts of the brain do, and how scanners can help us understand the brain. There are questions and answers included.
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