Paleoclimatic Variation and Brain Expansion during Human Evolution

Human Nature 18 (2):109-124 (2007)
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Abstract

One of the major adaptations during the evolution of Homo sapiens was an increase in brain size. Here we present evidence that a significant and substantial proportion of variation in brain size may be related to changes in temperature. Based on a sample of 109 fossilized hominid skulls, we found that cranial capacities were highly correlated with paleoclimatic changes in temperature, as indexed by oxygen isotope data and sea-surface temperature. Indeed, as much as 52% of the variance in the cranial capacity of these skulls could be accounted for by temperature variation at 100 ka intervals. As an index of more short-term seasonal fluctuations in temperature, we examined the latitude of the sites from which the crania originated. More than 22% of the variance in cranial capacity of these skulls could be accounted for by variation in equatorial distance

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Citations of this work

Hominid Brain Evolution.Drew H. Bailey & David C. Geary - 2009 - Human Nature 20 (1):67-79.
Vestigial Drifting Drives in Homo sapiens.Paolo Rognini - 2018 - Biological Theory 13 (3):199-211.

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References found in this work

Brain evolution in Homo: The “radiator” theory.Dean Falk - 1990 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (2):333-344.

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