Posts Tagged 'endocranial volume'

Victoriapithecus

Victoriapithecus (Gonzales et al 2015)Macaques and chimps are still used in anthropology and neuroscience as “primitive models” for human evolution. This is of course a non-sense: all living species, after the divergence from a common ancestor with modern humans, have evolved and changed as humans did. The genus Macaca is as young as the genus Homo, and living macaques and living humans are recent species in evolutionary terms, approximately with a comparable age. The problem with chimps is that we miss fossils, so we ignore how and how much their lineages has changed. But we have more information on macaques, and in general on fossil cercopithecoids. A very detailed and informative study on the endocast of Victoriapithecus has been recently published, definitely a  stimulating and comprehensive article for primate paleoneurology. This Old World monkey, dated to 15 Ma, had a small cranial capacity and large olfactory bulbs, but a sulcal pattern similar to modern cercopithecids. This suggests two major points. First, in Old World monkeys sulcal complexity evolved before brain size increase. Second, brain morphology evolved in cercopithecoids and hominoids through distinct processes, mixing primitive traits, different mechanisms, specific adaptations, and some convergences. These results stress further the necessity of caution and of a proper evolutionary perspective when dealing with comparative primatology and human brain evolution: macaques (and chimps) are derived species as we are, with their own independent evolutionary histories. They can provide information on biological factors which are shared among our respective lineages, but it would be an error to think that their anatomy, physiology, or genetics, represent an ancestral condition.

Australopithecus africanus

Cranial capacity estimations and inferences in fossil species suffer two main limits: incompleteness of the endocranial anatomy and small sample size. Neubauer and colleagues have now published a very detailed paper on these factors, by using Australopithecus africanus as case-study. They provide new figures for the endocranial volume of this taxon, quantifying the effect of incompleteness and small samples on the estimations. This is not only useful to enhance our knowledge on australopiths’ cranial capacity, but it represents a real quantitative advance in paleoneurology as scientific discipline.


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  • Oldest Human Footprints
    Klint Janulis, UCCS alum and on the Center for Cognitive Archaeology board of directors, was recently on the team that uncovered Saudi footprints believed to be the oldest found on the Arabian peninsula. Read their scientific journal article here: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/38/eaba8940 Other news stories about this discovery:Yahoo News: https: […]

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  • Homo erectus temporal lobes
    This week, we provide a new study of temporal lobe evolution in the Homo erectus hypodigm inferred from the middle cranial fossa (MCF) of the skull. Following from our earlier publication this year where we determined a strong reliability for MCF metrics to predict the temporal lobe volume of the brain in extant anthropoids and […]

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  • The Genetics of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
    Between the 16th and 19th centuries, approximately 12.5 million people were violently deported from their homes in Africa to the Americas by slavers. As current events have shown, the destruction of communities, cultures and families have had everlasting ramifications which are felt a century and half later. Some of the less tangible pains is the... Continue […]

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  • Researchers develop non-invasive deep brain stimulation method
    Researchers at MIT have developed a new method of electrically stimulating deep brain tissues without opening the skullSince 1997, more than 100,000 Parkinson’s Disease patients have been treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS), a surgical technique that involves the implantation of ultra-thin wire electrodes. The implanted device, sometimes referred to as […]

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