Grow Smart and Die Young: Why Did Cephalopods Evolve Intelligence?

Schnell, Alexandra K 
Ostojíc, Ljerka 
Fiorito, Graziano 

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Intelligence in large-brained vertebrates might have evolved through independent, yet similar processes based on comparable socioecological pressures and slow life histories. This convergent evolutionary route, however, cannot explain why cephalopods developed large brains and flexible behavioural repertoires: cephalopods have fast life histories and live in simple social environments. Here, we suggest that the loss of the external shell in cephalopods (i) caused a dramatic increase in predatory pressure, which in turn prevented the emergence of slow life histories, and (ii) allowed the exploitation of novel challenging niches, thus favouring the emergence of intelligence. By highlighting convergent and divergent aspects between cephalopods and large-brained vertebrates we illustrate how the evolution of intelligence might not be constrained to a single evolutionary route.

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behavioural flexibility, cognition, comparative psychology, evolution of intelligence, life history, Animals, Biological Evolution, Brain, Cephalopoda, Intelligence, Life History Traits, Organ Size, Social Environment
Journal Title
Trends Ecol Evol
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Elsevier BV
European Research Council (339993)
M.B., N.S.C. were funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement No. 3399933, awarded to N.S.C. A.S. was supported by an Endeavour Research Fellowship, funded by the Australian Government.