Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
The best-preserved specimens turned out to be primitive brains. Pixabay

Modern brains are younger than originally thought, possibly developing as recently as 1.5 million years ago, according to a study published Thursday. By that time, the earliest humans had already begun walking on two feet and had started fanning out from Africa.

Our first ancestors from the genus Homo emerged on the continent about 2.5 million years ago with primitive, apelike brains about half the size of those seen in today’s humans.


Scientists have been trying to solve a mystery for as long as our origin story has been known: Exactly when and where did the brain evolve into something that made us human?

Follow NewsGram on Quora Space to get answers to all your questions.

“People had thought that these humanlike brains evolved actually at the very beginning of the genus Homo, so about 2.5 million years ago,” paleoanthropologist Christoph Zollikofer, a co-author of the study published in the journal Science, told AFP.


Zollikofer and lead study author Marcia Ponce de Leon examined skull fossils from Africa, Georgia, and the Indonesian island of Java and discovered the evolution took place much later, between 1.7 million and 1.5 million years ago.

Since brains themselves do not fossilize, the only way to observe their evolution is to study the marks they leave inside the skull.

The scientists created virtual images, known as endocasts, of what had filled the skulls long ago.

In humans, the Broca area, part of the frontal lobe linked to speech production, is much bigger than the corresponding zone in other great apes, said Zollikofer of the University of Zurich.

The expansion of an area results in the shifting of everything behind it.

“This backward shift can be seen on the fossil endocasts when we track imprints of the brain fissures,” Zollikofer said.

‘Surprise’

By studying skulls from Africa, the researchers were able to determine that the oldest ones, dating back more than 1.7 million years, had a frontal lobe characteristic of great apes.


“This first result was a big surprise,” Zollikofer said.

It signified that the genus Homo “started with bipedalism,” or walking on two legs and that the evolution of the brain had nothing to do with being bipedal.

“Now we know that in our long evolutionary history … the first representatives of our genus Homo were just terrestrial bipeds, with ape-like brains,” the paleoanthropologist said.

However, the youngest African fossils, dating back 1.5 million years, showed characteristics of modern human brains.

This signified that the evolution of the brain took place between the two dates, in Africa, according to the study.

The conclusion is backed up by the appearance of more complex tools during this same period, called Acheulean tools, which have two symmetrical faces.

“This is not a random coincidence,” Zollikofer said, “because we know those brain areas that get expanded in this time period are those that are used for complex manipulative tasks like tool-making.”

Two migrations from Africa


The second surprising result of the study comes from observations of five skull fossils found in present-day Georgia, dating between 1.8 and 1.7 million years ago.

The particularly well-preserved specimens proved to be primitive brains.

“People thought you need a big modern brain to disperse out of Africa,” Zollikofer said. “We can show these brains are not big, and they are not modern, and still people have been able to leave Africa.”

ALSO READ: Study: Increased Sunlight Exposure Can Reduce COVID Deaths

Meanwhile, fossils from Java, the youngest specimens in the study, showed modern brain characteristics. The researchers, therefore, believe that there was a second migration out of Africa.

“So, you have a spray first of primitive-brained people, then things evolve to a modern brain in Africa, and these people sprayed again,” Zollikofer said.

“It’s not a new hypothesis … but there was no clear evidence. And now for the first time, we have real fossil evidence.” (VOA/KB)


Popular

VOA

Typically, Glaucoma occurs in people with over the age of 60 however it can occur at any age.

By IANSlife

Have you ever faced eye redness? Or have witnessed blurry or foggy vision? Or experiencing halos around lights? Or nausea and vomiting are very common for you. You may well be suffering from Glaucoma which needs immediate attention.

Glaucoma is the second most common causes of blindness worldwide, according to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO). Typically, it occurs in people with over the age of 60 however it can occur at any age. It is also estimated that globally 79.6 million people are affected with glaucoma, half of them being Asian population. While in India, around 11.9 million people suffer vision impairment and out of which 1.2 million cases are due to Glaucoma. It is a growing concern for the population in India. Even after these high numbers, the enormous majority remains undiagnosed, and untreated. More than 90 percent of cases of Glaucoma remain undiagnosed.

Pink eye Glaucoma is the second most common causes of blindness worldwide, according to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO). | Wikimedia Commons

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Chasse Sauvage on Unsplash

Sharing her personal insights on keeping our weight in place during the winter wedding season, Sakshi Bakshi, Founder of Nucros, has a few tips for all those health freaks out there!

By Sakshi Bakshi

The wedding season is in its full bloom, and almost every one of us has plans. In the spirit of celebration, it feels wrong to turn down our favourite appetizers, meals, and desserts! Our workout schedule and physical activities take a back seat. When it comes to maintaining your weight during wedding season, it can be challenging at times, but with the right amount of food intake and smart choices, it can all be kept in place. Sharing her personal insights on keeping our weight in place during the winter wedding season, Sakshi Bakshi, Founder of Nucros, has a few tips for all those health freaks out there!



  • Keep your diet in check: Always make sure keep it light in the day before a heavy night out. This means incorporating as many complex carbohydrates as possible, to keep the hunger in check for a long time while still being low in calories. Fruit and vegetables in the form of salads, soups, smoothies, etc. should be the priority. Stay away from high-fat soups consisting of thick cream and instead indulging in soups with a lot of vegetable content in them.

fruits on a light background Incorporate as many complex carbohydrates as possible, to keep the hunger in check for a long time while still being low in calories. | Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less
Flickr

The purpose of World AIDS Day is to show support for HIV infected People and those who have died as a result of AIDS.

Every year on December 1st, the world observes World AIDS Day. The purpose of the day, as the name implies, is to show support for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infected People and those who have died as a result of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). HIV continues to be a serious health concern that affects millions of individuals throughout the world. Despite the fact that the world has progressed significantly in recent decades, critical global objectives for 2020 have not been fulfilled.

“End inequalities. End AIDS” is the theme of World AIDS Day 2021. WHO and its partners are emphasizing the rising imbalances in access to essential HIV care, with a specific focus on those who have been left behind. The first World AIDS Day was observed in 1988, and it was also the first international day dedicated to global health. Every year on this day, organizations and individuals worldwide raise awareness about HIV, work to promote HIV information and awareness, speak out against HIV stigma, and push for a more aggressive attitude in the fight to end HIV.

Keep reading... Show less