Research coming out of the University of Witwatersrand says hominid brain size does NOT matter. The research team examined brain imprints (endocast) of Homo naledi’s brain and observed the many humanlike features in the imprints. What they did was to piece together traces of H. naledi’s brain shape from skull fragments and partial Crania from at least 5 adult specimens and they discovered one of these had very clear imprints on the convolutions on the surface of the brain’s left frontal lobe.
H. naledi’s brain was only about 1/3 the size of modern humans but their brains had some very humanlike features. Research conducted by this team call into question the long held assumption that human evolution was an upward growth in brain size and, thus, the development of more complex brains.
Homo naledi was discovered by paleoanthropologist Dr Lee Berger at the Rising Star Caves in the Cradle of Humankind in 2013. The site is located 3 miles northwest of Johannesburg. Paleoanthropologist Dr John Hawkes of the University of Wisconsin-Madison was part of the original research team as were others. The species existed in southern Africa between 236-335 kya which may also coincide with the emergence of modern humans in Africa. Prior to its discovery the general consensus was that there was only one species of hominin in Africa at the time (ie: Homo sapiens). Obviously that was NOT the case at all and H. naledi PROVES IT!! It’s discovery also proves that more than one hominin species coexisted!! And now it’s found that they had many brain features similar to H. sapiens even though their brains were smaller by 1/3 than H. sapiens! In short, what I’ve said before many times:
“What we thought…..was NOT!
And what we thought was not…..WAS!!”
There are still many mysteries in anthropology and this is one of the BIG ones. This researcher is bringing into question many of our assumptions and theories and in my mind that is a good thing. Why? Because it brings us closer to the TRUTH about our heritage and evolution!!
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