Sharks smarter than we think (and probably smarter than the average shark-hater)
Some great UWA research is being reported as showing sharks have better comprehension of their surroundings and are “smarter than we think” – though I presume that means smarter than most clueless people would have thought.
Yes, it’s obvious that scientists are still learning how sharks think, what their motivations are to make long distance swims and even (for any species) their relatively little-known mating and breeding habits. But whenever I see interesting articles in the general media, it still bugs me to read reader comments about how bloodthirsty and stupid sharks are, from people who clearly know nothing about them firsthand.
Anyway, here’s some grabs from the article and I’m sure Dr Yopak is tired of having to always dispel these misconceptions:
University of Western Australia researcher Kara Yopak presented her research into the use of brain anatomy to understand cognitive ability in sharks.
Dr Yopak said it was a common misconception that “sharks are these small-brained pre-programmed eating machines”.
“They are actually relatively large-brained species and they are capable of such an incredible range of complex behaviours,” she said.
Part of her research involved comparing the brains of sharks to mammals, including humans.
“There is a number of similarities that I would say have originated at least as early as sharks and then have been carried through vertebrate evolution to our own brains,” she said.
Dr Yopak said the brains of sharks varied across different species, casting doubt over the effectiveness of one-size-fits-all shark deterrents.
“When we are investigating repellents we probably need to take a species-specific approach,” she said.