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Domestic vs. Wild Cats
Spanish wildcats are essentially "living fossils"-- rare survivors of the species that gave rise to domesticated wildcats 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. While the domestic cat's line has evolved rapidly since then, the Spanish wildcat has barely changed. The scientists found that the domestic cat's brain is 20 to 30 percent lighter than a Spanish wildcat's brain. (Its whole body is about half the size of the wildcat's body.) To find out whether the domestic cat had smaller neurons, more tightly packed neurons, or simply fewer neurons, the researchers decided to actually count the number of neurons in a small section of the feline brain -- the visual pathway.
Here are some of the observations that the researchers made when comparing domestic and wild cats:
- domestic cats have thicker skulls and smaller brains
- domestic cats have less cone photoreceptors in their retina than wild cats
- wild cats tend to have a greater total density of ganglion cells in their retinas
- total neuron number and volume of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) is larger in wild cats than in the domestic cat
- the actual cell size of the neurons in the LGN is the same in both wild and domestic cats
So, what do you make of these facts?
I'm not sure-- can we discuss what these mean?
Can we start over instead?
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