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Scientists Investigate – Did The Human Brain Shrink 3,000 Years Ago?

Jan Bartek – – Did the twelfth century B.C.E.—a time when people had been forging nice empires and growing new types of written textual content—coincide with an evolutionary discount in mind dimension? Think once more, says a UNLV-led workforce of researchers who refute a speculation that is rising more and more fashionable among the many science neighborhood.

Scientists Investigate - Did The Human Brain Shrink 3,000 Years Ago?

Credit: Pixabay – Public Domain

Last yr, a gaggle of scientists made headlines after they concluded that the human mind shrank through the transition to fashionable city societies about 3,000 years in the past as a result of, they stated, our ancestors’ potential to retailer data externally in social teams decreased our want to take care of giant brains. Their speculation, which explored many years-outdated concepts on the evolutionary discount of recent human mind dimension, was primarily based on a comparability to evolutionary patterns seen in ant colonies.

Not so quick, stated UNLV anthropologist Brian Villmoare and Liverpool John Moores University scientist Mark Grabowski.

In a brand new paper printed final week in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, the UNLV-led workforce analyzed the dataset that the analysis group from final yr’s examine used and dismissed their findings.

“We had been struck by the implications of a considerable discount in fashionable human mind dimension at roughly 3,000 years in the past, throughout an period of many vital improvements and historic occasions—the looks of Egypt’s New Kingdom, the event of Chinese script, the Trojan War, and the emergence of the Olmec civilization, amongst many others,” Villmoare stated.

Scientists Investigate - Did The Human Brain Shrink 3,000 Years Ago?

Credit: Pixabay – ArtsyBee – Public Domain

“We re-examined the dataset from DeSilva et al. and located that human mind dimension has not modified in 30,000 years, and possibly not in 300,000 years,” Villmoare stated. “In truth, primarily based on this dataset, we are able to establish no discount in mind dimension in fashionable people over any time-interval for the reason that origins of our species.”

Key takeaways

The UNLV analysis workforce questioned a number of of the hypotheses that DeSilva et. al gleaned from a dataset of practically 1,000 early human fossil and museum specimens, together with:

  • The UNLV workforce says the rise of agriculture and complicated societies occurred at completely different occasions across the globe—that means there ought to be variation in timing of cranium adjustments seen in several populations. However, DeSilva’s dataset sampled solely 23 crania from the timeframe important to the mind shrinkage speculation and lumped collectively specimens from places together with England, China, Mali, and Algeria.
  • The dataset is closely skewed as a result of greater than half of the 987 skulls examined signify solely the final 100 years of a 9.8-million-yr span of time—and due to this fact do not give scientists a good suggestion of how a lot cranial dimension has modified over time.
  • Multiple hypotheses on causes of discount in fashionable human mind dimension should be reassessed if human brains have not truly modified in dimension for the reason that arrival of our species.

The examine was printed within the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution

Written by Jan Bartek – Staff Writer


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