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Palaeontology

Mystery human species had an advanced brain

April 24, 2017 | Comment icon 2 comments



Fossils of Homo naledi. Image Credit: CC BY 4.0 Berger et al
Homo naledi's brain may not have been as big as that of a modern human, but it was still sophisticated.
When its discovery was first revealed back in 2015, Homo naledi was big news. The bones from a total of 15 individuals had been found inside a cave near Johannesburg, South Africa, alongside thousands of bone fragments - the largest number ever found at a single site.

Perhaps the most interesting thing of all about the species however was that, despite its relatively small brain size, this early ancestor of modern man seemed to be quite intelligent.

Of particular note was the fact that the remains found inside the cave appeared to have been deliberately placed there, suggesting that Homo naledi laid their dead to rest.
Now scientists have managed to learn even more about the brain of this remarkable species by using skull fragments to recreate how it might have looked.

Despite having a brain no bigger than that of a chimpanzee, it seemed that Homo naledi was capable of several advanced human behaviors and its frontal lobe, which in humans relates to language skills, was more like that of a modern human than of any other primate species.

"I would think the implication is that [H. naledi] was moving strongly towards enhanced communication," said researcher Shawn Hurst of Indiana University in Bloomington.

What Homo naledi lacked in size, it seems, it certainly made up for in brain power.

Source: New Scientist | Comments (2)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by paperdyer 5 years ago
Very interesting!!!!!!  I wonder how much intelligence has gotten lost in our larger brain.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Claire. 5 years ago
Some additional photos, of the discovery, as well as a depiction of what Homo Naledi might have looked like.


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