A claim in search of evidence: Reply to Manger's thermogenesis hypothesis of cetacean brain structure

Lori Marino, Camilla Butti, Richard C. Connor, Rosemary Anne Fordyce, Louis M. Herman, Patrick R Hof, Louis Lefebvre, David Lusseau, Brenda McCowan, Esther A. Nimchinsky, Adam A. Pack, Joy S. Reidenberg, Diana Reiss, Luke Rendell, Mark D. Uhen, Estelle Van der Gucht, Hal Whitehead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


In a recent publication in Biological Reviews, Manger (2006) made the controversial claim that the large brains of cetaceans evolved to generate heat during oceanic cooling in the Oligocene epoch and not, as is the currently accepted view, as a basis for an increase in cognitive or information-processing capabilities in response to ecological or social pressures. Manger further argued that dolphins and other cetaceans are considerably less intelligent than generally thought. In this review we challenge Manger's arguments and provide abundant evidence that modern cetacean brains are large in order to support complex cognitive abilities driven by social and ecological forces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-440
Number of pages24
JournalBiological Reviews
Issue number4
Early online date9 Sept 2008
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • brain
  • brain size
  • marine mammals
  • thermogenesis
  • intelligence
  • cognition
  • encephalisation
  • dolphin
  • cetacean
  • temperature
  • bottle-nosed dolphins
  • resident killer whales
  • reflect phylogenetic-relationships
  • Tursiops-Truncatus perceive
  • magnetic-resonance images
  • language-trained dolphin
  • calcium-binding protein
  • cultural transmission
  • signature whistles
  • visual-cortex


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