Despite most than one century of studies, the taxonomic and phylogenetic status of Homo erectus is still largely debated. There is no agreement whether or not the African and Asian specimens belong to the same species, or on the meaning of the variation within the Asian group. The relevant influence of a shared allometric component, the large geographic and chronological span, the marked individual and idiosyncratic variability and (most important) the small sample size, hamper any definitive conclusion. Because of all these actual limits, we should seriously consider if our insistence in searching fixed and stable taxonomic certainties represents a necessary and useful effort. Because of these limits, probably paleoanthropology should rely on a different approach to taxonomy, more centred on the actual information available than on hypothetical and conceptual schemes. In the meanwhile, this week we publish a general review on Homo erectus paleoneurology. We describe the general morphology of the African and Asian Homo erectus endocasts, providing a quantitative perspective of their variation and variability by means of traditional endocranial metrics. As expected, no patent differences are evidenced among different geographic groups, being size and allometry the main source of variation. Of course, the absence of morphological differences in the endocasts does not necessarily means the absence of differences in brain organization, and it does not give information on the underlying taxonomical structure. The limits of the sample size are evident: a power analysis suggests that, beyond the issue of biological representativeness, for a simple variable like cranial capacity groups of at least 40 specimens would be necessary to deal with the statistical uncertainties! Nonetheless we can now state that, at least according to the current metric information, all the possible taxa included in the Homo erectus hypodigm share similar endocranial proportions.
apes Atapuerca Australopithecus brain-artefact interface brain atlas brain biology braincase brain size brain thermoregulation CENIEH Cercopithecoids chimpanzee China cognitive archaeology corpus callosum cortical folding cortical surface cranial thickness diploic channels eLearning embodiment encephalization endocranial ontogeny endocranial volume evo-devo extended mind fossil endocasts Frederick Coolidge frontal bone frontal lobes functional craniology geometric morphometrics hemispheric asymmetries Holocene Homo erectus human ethology human genus intraparietal sulcus Konrad Lorenz Institute language Le Moustier macaque Malu Cave mammals metopic suture Mezmaiskaya modern humans myopia Neandertals occipital lobes orbits paleoneurology Pan paniscus Pan troglodytes parietal bone parietal lobes petalia Philipp Gunz Phillip Tobias photography precuneus primate brain sexual dimorphism shape analysis Simon Neubauer social primatology species concept subparietal sulcus sulcal patterns sulci symbolic thinking Taung child University of Colorado University of Liverpool visuospatial integration
- How big brains evolved could be revealed by new mathematical modelhttp://www.psypost.org/2017/03/big-brains-evolved-revealed-new-mathematical-model-48198
- DECODING MIMBRES PAINTINGThis extended abstract represents a summary introduction to a work in progress, which will culminate in a publication and exhibition at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2018. It briefly outlines our discoveries and interpretations, which will be more fully presented, referenced and discussed in the forthcoming catalog. This presentation is available f […]
- Brain Volume DatabaseThe Internet Brain Volume Database (IBVD) is an online collection of neuroimaging data funded as a part of the international initiative, the Human Brain Project. The IBVD provides access data for both individual and among-group comparisons that allow total volume comparisons with parallelization of the brain into hemispheres, specific lobes or grey matter vo […]
- The Effect of Diet Changes and The Selection of European Fatty Acid DesaturasesUC Berkeley Integrative Biologist, Rasmus Nielsen and his colleagues, published a fascinating study in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution looking at …Continue reading →
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- How to become a super memorizer – and what it does to your brainNew research shows that we can train our brains to become memory champions To many of us, having to memorize a long list of items feels like a chore. But for others, it is more like a sport. Every year, hundreds of these ‘memory athletes’ compete with one another in the World Memory Championships, memorising hundreds of words, numbers, or other pieces of inf […]
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