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How City Living Is Reshaping the Brains and Behavior of Urban Animals


In evolutionary terms, the urban environments we take for granted represent radical ecological upheavals, the sort of massive changes that for most of Earth’s history have played out over geological time, not a few hundred years.

Houses, roads, landscaping, and the vast, dense populations of hairless bipedal apes responsible for it: All this is new, and animals are adapting, fast, all around us. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the brains and behaviors of urban animals are changing rapidly in response.

“A lot of biologists are really interested in how animals are going to deal with changes in their environments,” said biologist Emilie Snell-Rood of the University of Minnesota. “Humans are creating all these totally new environments compared to what they’ve seen in evolutionary history.”

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