Tracking Human Cranial Evolution

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Tracking Human Cranial Evolution

#1  Postby Spearthrower » Apr 13, 2021 5:19 pm

The primitive brain of early Homo


The brains of modern humans differ from those of great apes in size, shape, and cortical organization, notably in frontal lobe areas involved in complex cognitive tasks, such as social cognition, tool use, and language. When these differences arose during human evolution is a question of ongoing debate. Here, we show that the brains of early Homo from Africa and Western Asia (Dmanisi) retained a primitive, great ape–like organization of the frontal lobe. By contrast, African Homo younger than 1.5 million years ago, as well as all Southeast Asian Homo erectus, exhibited a more derived, humanlike brain organization. Frontal lobe reorganization, once considered a hallmark of earliest Homo in Africa, thus evolved comparatively late, and long after Homo first dispersed from Africa.

Human brains are substantially larger than those of our closest living relatives, the great apes, and also bear evidence of important structural reorganization, notably in cortical association areas related to higher cognitive functions, such as toolmaking and language capabilities (1, 2). Clarifying when these structural innovations appeared during human evolution remains a major challenge (3, 4).

I want to just drop this in here for now and come back when I've got more time to explain what's interesting and what's flawed here. Both are interesting, but the idea of a dramatic change in brain organization in later Homo could certainly help explain some of the evidence from different fields.
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