Microcephalics & co.

Microcephalics 2013 (EBruner)A recent analysis of lateral brain proportions in modern humans confirms once more that “microcephaly” is probably a box in which we place phenotypes that have something in common but that are likely the result of very different processes. Robust conclusions are hampered by small sample size usually available to investigate such processes. Robust conclusions are hampered by the limited knowledge we have on cranial variation and cranial dynamics of our species. In the last years, the interest in microcephaly has been raised because of mass-media attention to the Flores human remains. According to the (large and expert) literature, there is irrefutable evidence that this specimen represents an extinct human species, probably related to Homo erectus or to some archaic taxon undergoing insular dwarfism. There is also irrefutable evidence that this specimen is but a microcephalic modern human. Hence, the only irrefutable evidence is that there is no irrefutable evidence. The Flores hominids tell us something: that we need more craniological studies.

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1 Response to “Microcephalics & co.”


  1. 1 emilianobruner July 25, 2013 at 13:59

    And just this month there is a new paper on Flores:

    Homo floresiensis contextualized: a geometric morphometric comparative analysis of fossil and pathological human samples
    Karen L. Baab, Kieran P. McNulty, Katerina Harvati

    Morphometric data are more and more complete, and comparative sample size is definitely increasing. The Flores hominid is giving us a reason to improve research in craniology.

    Although some microcephalic specimens approach a similar morphology, the phenotypic similarity with Homo erectus is striking. I am surprised to see such affinity despite the size differences. This means that there is a weak allometric component …


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