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List of animals by number of neurons

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Title: List of animals by number of neurons  
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Subject: Animal cognition, Vocal learning, Connectome, Primate cognition, Pain in crustaceans
Collection: Biology-Related Lists, Lists of Animals, Neuroscience
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List of animals by number of neurons

This is a list of representative animals by the number of neurons in their whole nervous system and the number of neurons in their brain (for those with a brain). These numbers are estimates derived by multiplying the density of neurons in a particular animal by the average volume of the animal's brain.


  • Overview 1
  • Whole nervous system 2
  • Cerebral cortex 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


Neurons are the cells that transmit information in an animals nervous system so that it can sense stimuli from its environment and behave accordingly. Not all animals have neurons; Trichoplax and sponges lack nerve cells altogether.

Neurons may be packed to form structures such as the brain of vertebrates or the neural ganglions of insects.

The number of neurons and their relative abundance in different parts of the brain is a determinant of neural function and, consequently, of behavior.

Whole nervous system

Name Neurons in the brain/whole nervous system Details Image Source
Sponge 0
Trichoplax 0
Caenorhabditis elegans (roundworm) 302 ~ 7,500 synapses
Jellyfish 800
Medicinal leech 10,000
Pond snail 11,000
Sea slug 18,000
Fruit fly 100,000 ~ 107 synapses
Larval zebrafish 100,000 [8]
Lobster 100,000
Ant 250,000 Varies per species


Honey bee 960,000 ~ 109 synapses
Cockroach 1,000,000
Adult zebrafish ~10,000,000 cells (neurons + other) [14]
Frog 16,000,000
Mouse 71,000,000 ~ 1011 synapses
Rat 200,000,000 4.48 × 1011 [3]
Octopus 300,000,000
Human 86,000,000,000 For average adult; 1014–1015 synapses

Cerebral cortex

Only mammals appear in this list, because only mammals have a cerebral cortex (although the pallium of reptiles and birds is also frequently referred to as "cortex".)

Name Neurons in the cerebral cortex Details Image Source
Mouse 4,000,000 Genus Mus, musculus
Rat 15,000,000[21]
Genus Rattus, unknown species
Hedgehog 24,000,000 Subfamily Erinaceinae, unknown genus and species
Opossum 27,000,000 Family Didelphidae, unknown genus and species
Dog 160,000,000 Canis lupus familiaris
Cat 300,000,000 Felis catus or Felis silvestris catus
Tarsius 310,000,000 Genus Tarsius, unknown species
Squirrel monkey 430,000,000 Genus Saimiri, unknown species
Rhesus macaque 480,000,000 Macaca mulatta
Gracile capuchin monkey 600,000,000–700,000,000 Genus Cebus, unknown species
Horse 1,200,000,000 Equus ferus caballus
Night monkey 1,500,000,000 Genus Aotus, unknown species
Fin whale 1,500,000,000 Balaenoptera physalus
Guenon 2,500,000,000 Genus Cercopithecus, unknown species
Pilot whale 3,000,000,000 Genus Globicephala, unknown species
Gorilla 4,300,000,000 Genus Gorilla, unknown species
Bottlenose dolphin 5,800,000,000 Genus Tursiops, unknown species
Chimpanzee 5,500,000,000[23]
Genus Pan, unknown species
False killer whale 10,500,000,000 Pseudorca crassidens
African elephant 11,000,000,000 Genus Loxodonta, unknown species
Human 19,000,000,000–23,000,000,000 For average adult
"The average number of neocortical neurons was 19 billion in female brains and 23 billion in male brains."

See also


  1. ^ Schierwater B (December 2005). "My favorite animal, Trichoplax adhaerens". BioEssays 27 (12): 1294–1302.  
  2. ^ White, J. G; E. Southgate; J. N Thomson; S. Brenner (1986-11-12). "The Structure of the Nervous System of the Nematode Caenorhabditis Elegans".  
  3. ^ a b Herculano-Houzel, S. & Lent, R. (2005). "Isotropic fractionator: a simple, rapid method for the quantification of total cell and neuron numbers in the brain.". J Neurosci 25 (10): 2518–2521.  
  4. ^ Kuffler SW and Potter DD (1964). "Glia in the leech central nervous system: physiological properties and neuron-glia relationship". J. Neurophysiol. 27: 290–320.  
  5. ^ a b c d e Roth G, Dicke U (May 2005). "Evolution of the brain and intelligence".   as PDF
  6. ^ Cash D, Carew TJ (1989). "A quantitative analysis of the development of the central nervous system in juvenile Aplysia californica". J Neurobiol. 20 (1): 25–47.  
  7. ^ Random House, Inc. Academic Resources | Titles of Academic Interest for Universities and Colleges
  8. ^ Scientists Capture All The Neurons Firing Across A Fish's Brain On Video Popular Science, 19 March 2013.
  9. ^ "Anatomy & Biology". The Lobster Institute.  
  10. ^ John and Sarah Tefl. "Interesting Facts About Ants". Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Ant Fun Facts". Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  12. ^ Menzel R, Giurfa M (February 2001). "Cognitive architecture of a mini-brain: the honeybee".  
  13. ^ "A Strange Approach to Social Interaction, and Butterflies". January 10, 2007. Archived from the original on January 13, 2007. Retrieved November 26, 2010. 
  14. ^ Hinsch, K. & Zupanc, G. K. H. (2007). "Generation and long-term persistence of new neurons in the adult zebrafish brain: A quantitative analysis.". Neuroscience 146 (2): 679–696.  
  15. ^ Frog Brain Neuron Number
  16. ^ Herculano-Houzel, S, Mota B, Lent R (2006). "Cellular scaling rules for rodent brains.". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103 (32): 12138–12143.  
  17. ^ Brain Facts and Figures
  18. ^ Azevedo, Frederico A.C.; Carvalho, Ludmila R.B.; Grinberg, Lea T.; Farfel, José Marcelo; Ferretti, Renata E.L.; Leite, Renata E.P.; Filho, Wilson Jacob; Lent, Roberto; Herculano-Houzel, Suzana (2009). "Equal numbers of neuronal and nonneuronal cells make the human brain an isometrically scaled-up primate brain". The Journal of Comparative Neurology 513 (5): 532–541.  
  19. ^ Herculano-Houzel, S. (20 June 2012). "The remarkable, yet not extraordinary, human brain as a scaled-up primate brain and its associated cost". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109 (Supplement_1): 10661–10668.  
  20. ^ a b c d Herculano-Houzel S (2009). "The human brain in numbers: a linearly scaled-up primate brain".  
  21. ^ a b c d Fasolo, Aldo (30 November 2011). The Theory of Evolution and Its Impact.  
  22. ^ Korbo L, Pakkenberg B, Ladefoged O, Gundersen HJ, Arlien-Søborg P, Pakkenberg H (February 1990). "An efficient method for estimating the total number of neurons in rat brain cortex". J. Neurosci. Methods 31 (2): 93–100.  
  23. ^ a b c Quarton, Gardner C.; Melnechuk, Theodore; Schmitt, Francis O. (1967). The neurosciences.  
  24. ^ a b c Hofman, Michel A.; Falk, Dean (2 March 2012). Evolution of the Primate Brain: From Neuron to Behavior.  
  25. ^ a b c d e Hofman, Michel A.; Falk, Dean (2 March 2012). Evolution of the Primate Brain: From Neuron to Behavior.  
  26. ^ Steven M. Platek, Julian Paul Keenan, and Todd K. Shackelford (2009). "Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience". p. 139. 
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