Comparing frontal cranial profiles in archaic and modern homo by morphometric analysis. (1999)
Abstract: Archaic and modern human frontal bones are known to be quite distinct externally, by both conventional visual and metric evaluation. Internally this area of the skull has been considerably less well-studied. Here we present results from a comparison of interior, as well as exterior, frontal bone profiles from CT scans of five mid-Pleistocene and Neanderthal crania and 16 modern humans. Analysis was by a new morphometric method, Procrustes analysis of semi-landmarks, that permits the statistical comparison of curves between landmarks. As expected, we found substantial external differences between archaic and modern samples, differences that are mainly confined to the region around the brow ridge. However, in the inner median-sagittal profile, the shape remained remarkably stable over all 21 specimens. This implies that no significant alteration in this region has taken place over a period of a half-million years or more of evolution, even as considerable external change occurred within the hominid clade spanning several species. This confirms that the forms of the inner and outer aspects of the human frontal bone are determined by entirely independent factors, and further indicates unexpected stability in anterior brain morphology over the period during which modern human cognitive capacities emerged. Anat Rec (New Anat): 257:217-224, 1999.
This non-conforming development of internal and external human frontal bone evolution puts a really big kink into the insistence by anthropologists that intelligence can be “read by” looking at external artefacts like “brow ridges” – an assumption left over from PHRENOLOGY!
- Homo. 2007;58(1):1-12. Epub 2007 Jan 22.
The size of scalable brain components in the human evolutionary lineage: with a comment on the paradox of Homo floresiensis. (2007)
Abstract: The discovery of a diminutive, small-brained hominin skeleton (LB1) from the Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia, seems to present a paradox concerning the interpretation of overall brain size in an evolutionary context. This specimen forms the holotype of a purportedly new hominin species, Homo floresiensis. As inferred from the archaeological record, it has been suggested that this species of Homo, existing as recently as 12,000 years ago, engaged in sophisticated cultural behaviors with an adult brain size equivalent to that seen in modern chimpanzees and one that in modern humans would be defined as “high degree microcephaly” and “always associated with idiocy”. The alternative explanation for these behaviors at the observed brain size would require that H. floresiensis deviate from existing patterns of primate brain scaling at either a macroscopic or microscopic level. Here we develop predictive equations and confidence intervals for estimating the size of various brain components in the human evolutionary lineage by calculating scaling relationships among overall brain size and 11 components of the primate brain using phylogenetically independent contrasts (PIC) methods. Using these equations, paleoanthropologists can: (a) estimate brain component size (and confidence intervals) for any primate in the fossil record if overall brain size is known; and (b) calculate some reasonable outside limits as to how far species-specific departures from allometric constraints (i.e., brain “reorganization”) can be taken in assessing human brain evolution. We conclude that if the original assessment of LB1 is correct, i.e., that it samples a population from a new species of Homo, H. floresiensis, that was capable of Homo sapiens-like cultural attributes (fire, blade manufacturing, etc.), while having a chimpanzee-sized brain, then we are faced with the paradox that 1 cm(3) of H. floresiensis brain could not be functionally equivalent to 1cm(3) of a modern human or modern chimpanzee brain.
How quickly the popular articles re: Homo floriensis vanished from the “news”. Could it be that this non-conforming Homo presents too many challenges to the contemporary and traditional assumption about the cultural trajectory that is the foundation of Western evolutionary science? IE, Dumb ancestral hominids are triumphantly “replaced” (exterminated) due to (God-given) “superior” white European brain capacity, (revealed by bulging forehead – a cartoon version of evolution) thus justifying Western Culture’s predation on the “rest of the world”.
- PMID: 17240374
For a history of phrenology and related racist pseudo-science:
An excellent wordpress site: