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Stranger than Fiction

Bees in the city have bigger brains

Published:Thursday | November 30, 2023 | 7:41 AMBANG Bizarre

New research suggests insects that reside in urban areas have an intelligence advantage over those that buzz around the countryside.

Scientists measured the brain and body size of 335 bees from 89 species across Europe and North America and found that creatures living in cities typically have bigger brains relative to their bodies.

Experts at the Donana Biological Station in Spain explained that this is the first evidence of the 'cognitive buffer' theory in insects.

The team said: "Our analyses revealed that bee species mainly found in urban habitats had larger brains relative to the body size than those that tend to occur in forested or agricultural habitats.

"Additionally, urban bees exhibited larger body sizes and, consequently, larger absolute brain sizes.

"Since urban environments exhibit dynamic challenges, including novel resources and changing human disturbances, a large brain may provide the cognitive flexibility to exploit these new resources while avoiding risks."

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