Big brown bats in Minnesota have gotten bigger brains over the past century. We may be driving their evolution. Photo by Matt Reinbold, via Creative Commons Licence
Big brown bats in Minnesota have gotten bigger brains over the past century. We may be driving their evolution. Photo by Matt Reinbold, via Creative Commons Licence

Are We Making Animal Brains Bigger? My New “Matter” Column for the New York Times

The Stanford biologist Stephen Palumbi wrote an excellent book some years ago called The Evolution Explosion, in which he argued that humans have become a powerful force in the evolution of life. We’ve altered the whole planet, so that now many species are traveling on new evolutionary trajectories. (For more, here’s a review of the book I wrote for the New York Times Book Review.)

Over the years since Palumbi’s book came out, scientists have documented more examples of our effect. This week, I was intrigued to come across a new study that we may be even altering the brains of animals. It’s the subject of my new Matter column for the New York Timesmy new Matter column for the New York Times. It’s only a preliminary study, of course, but it does raise some fascinating questions about the mental challenges animals now face as they navigate a human-dominated world. Check it out.