The anatomy of the brain of crocodilians does not have much secrets for researchers anymore. Its operation, on the other hand, remains subject to questioning. And to find out what’s going on in the Nile crocodile’s brain when they hear classical music, an international team of researchers gave them an MRI. A first for which it was necessary to adapt.
Thus the cold-blooded animals were slightly sedated, their bodies being kept at 23 °C and immobilized. They were then subjected to auditory stimuli, among others. Simple sounds, which activated expected areas in their brains.
The surprise came from the recorded images following the emission of more complex sounds; works by Johann Sebastian Bach. These activated other areas of the animals’ brain. Areas similar to those that are also activated in birds or even in mammals when in such situations.
We call sauropsida all birds and reptiles living today. Among them, crocodiles have evolved very little over the last 200 million years. And they are the closest reptiles to birds, making the connection between them and the dinosaurs. Thus, these results assume that both structural and functional aspects of sensory processing may have been formed at an early stage of development and preserved during sauropod evolution. Perhaps, we might even find the same origin in all vertebrates.