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Gorillas smarter than human ancestors, research suggests

The research suggested that blood flow rate may be a better measure of information processing capacity than the size of a brain.

Gorilla. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Research suggests that today's gorillas may be smarter than human 'ancestors' of three million years ago.

The study conducted by Professor Roger Seymour from the University of Adelaide and Dr Edward Snelling from the University of Pretoria aims to challenge the understanding of the evolution of human intelligence.

It suggested that blood flow rate may be a better measure of information processing capacity than the size of a brain.

It has generally been assumed that intelligence was directly related to the size of the brain, however, new research has proven different.

Senior lecturer at the University of Pretoria, Dr Edward Snelling, said that the measure of blood flow to the cognitive part of the brain based on the size of the holes in the skull signified intelligence.

According to Snelling, these connections governed the flow on information within the brain, resulting in greater information processing.

"Rather than just relying on the size of the brain, we now can work out what the blood flow requirements of the brain are and therefore the metabolic requirements of the brain. We can trace it back 3 million years across human evolution."

Snelling said that the findings of the study could modify where we, as humans, think where we come from.

"The real significance and the interest of the research is just the knowledge of where we evolved from and what our base of intelligence was and how that intelligence changed over evolutionary time."

Snelling's research showed the link between blood flow rate and metabolic rate suggested that Australopithecus did not have a high brain function as assumed, making today's apes more intelligent than our predecessors.

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