Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Anthropologist finds explanation for hominin brain evolution in famous fossil

May 08, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- One of the world's most important fossils has a story to tell about the brain evolution of modern humans and their ancestors, according to Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk.

The Taung fossil - the first australopithecine ever discovered - has two significant features that were analyzed by Falk and a group of anthropological researchers. Their findings, which suggest brain evolution was a result of a complex set of interrelated dynamics in childbirth among new bipeds, were published May 7 in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"These findings are significant because they provide a highly plausible explanation as to why the hominin brain might grow larger and more complex," Falk said.

The first feature is a "persistent metopic suture," or unfused seam, in the frontal bone, which allows a baby's skull to be pliable during childbirth as it squeezes through the birth canal. In great apes - gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees - the metopic suture closes shortly after birth. In humans, it does not fuse until around 2 years of age to accommodate rapid brain growth.

The second feature is the fossil's endocast, or imprint of the outside surface of the brain transferred to the inside of the skull. The endocast allows researchers to examine the brain's form and structure.

After examining the Taung fossil, as well as huge numbers of skulls belonging to apes and humans, as well as corresponding 3-D CT (three-dimensional computed tomographic) scans, and taking into account the fossil record for the past 3 million years, Falk and her colleagues noted three important findings: The persistent metopic suture is an adaptation for giving birth to babies with larger brains; is related to the shift to a rapidly growing brain after birth; and may be related to expansion in the frontal lobes.

"The persistent metopic suture, an advanced trait, probably occurred in conjunction with refining the ability to walk on two legs," Falk said. "The ability to walk upright caused an obstretric dilemma. Childbirth became more difficult because the shape of the birth canal became constricted while the size of the brain increased. The persistent metopic suture contributes to an evolutionary solution to this dilemma."

The later fusion of the metopic suture is most likely an adaptation of hominins who walked upright to be able to more easily give birth to babies with relatively large brains. The unfused seam is also related to the shift to rapidly growing brains after birth, an advanced human-like feature as compared to apes.

"The later fusion was also associated with evolutionary expansion of the frontal lobes, which is evident from the endocasts of australopithecines such as Taung," Falk said.

The Taung fossil, which is estimated to be around 2½ million years old, was discovered in 1924 in Taung, South Africa. It became the "type specimen," or main model, of the genus Australopithecus africanus when it was announced in 1925.

An australopithecine is any species of the extinct genera Australopithecus or Paranthropus that lived in Africa, walked on two legs and had relatively small brains.

###

Falk conducted the research with Marcia S. Ponce de Leon, Christoph P.E. Zollikofer and Naoki Morimoto of the Anthropological Institute and Museum at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

Florida State University



More Metopic Suture Current Events and Metopic Suture News Articles

Clinically Oriented Anatomy

Clinically Oriented Anatomy
by Keith L. Moore (Author), Anne M. R. Agur (Author), Arthur F. Dalley (Author)


Clinically Oriented Anatomy provides first-year medical students with the clinically oriented anatomical information that they need in study and practice. This best-selling anatomy textbook is renowned for its comprehensive coverage of anatomy, presented as it relates to the practice of medicine, dentistry, and physical therapy. The 7th edition features a NEW-AND-IMPROVED ART PROGRAM to reinforce its position as the primary resource serving the needs of anatomy students during both the basic science and the clinical phases of their studies. Moore is the popular choice for anatomy in many programs, including: medical, dental, physician assistant, chiropractic, podiatry, osteopathic, physical therapy, occupational therapy, kinesiology, and sports medicine.

The 7th edition...

Workbook for Sectional Anatomy for Imaging Professionals, 3e

Workbook for Sectional Anatomy for Imaging Professionals, 3e
by Lorrie L. Kelley MS RT(R) (Author), Connie Petersen MS RT(R) (Author)


This workbook uses an integrated approach to learning sectional anatomy and applying it to diagnostic imaging. It facilitates comprehension, learning, and retention of the material presented in Kelley's Sectional Anatomy for Imaging Professionals, 3rd Edition. In addition to fill-in-the-blank, matching, multiple-choice, true/false, puzzles, fill-in-the-table, and short-answer questions, this new edition includes 300 illustrations from the main text for labeling practice. Three post tests cover neurologic, body, and extremity content, offering additional opportunities for readers to test their comprehension.Chapter objectives focus your attention on the important concepts you are expected to master by the end of the chapter. A variety of engaging exercises, such as matching, true/false,...

Smith's Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation: Expert Consult - Online and Print, 7e

Smith's Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation: Expert Consult - Online and Print, 7e
by Kenneth Lyons Jones (Author), Marilyn C. Jones (Author), Miguel Del Campo (Author)


2014 BMA Medical Book Awards 1st Prize Award Winner in Illustrated Book category and Highly Commended in Paediatrics category! Smith's Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation has long been known as the source to consult on multiple malformation syndromes of environmental and genetic etiology as well as recognizable disorders of unknown cause. This esteemed medical reference book provides you with complete and authoritative, yet accessible guidance to help accurately diagnose these human disorders, establish prognoses, and provide appropriate management and genetic counseling.Recognize the visual signs of each environmental and genetic abnormality by consulting more than 1,500 full-color photographs and illustrations, many from the personal collections of Drs. Smith and Jones.Find all...

Principles of Human Anatomy

Principles of Human Anatomy
by Gerard J. Tortora (Author), Mark Nielsen (Author)


A market-leading text through its many editions, the 13th edition of Principles of Human Anatomy continues to successfully blend visual and textual elements to illuminate the complexities of human anatomy. Written for the 1-term human anatomy course, the 13th edition raises the standard for excellence in this discipline with its enhanced illustration program, refined narrative, and the integrated design of dynamic resources like Real Anatomy 2.0 into the curriculum.

Sectional Anatomy for Imaging Professionals, 3e

Sectional Anatomy for Imaging Professionals, 3e
by Lorrie L. Kelley MS RT(R) (Author), Connie Petersen MS RT(R) (Author)


An ideal resource for the classroom or the clinical setting, Sectional Anatomy for Imaging Professionals, 3rd Edition provides a comprehensive, easy-to-understand approach to the sectional anatomy of the entire body. Side-by-side presentations of actual diagnostic images from both MRI and CT modalities and corresponding anatomic line drawings illustrate the planes of anatomy most commonly demonstrated by diagnostic imaging. Concise descriptions detail the location and function of the anatomy, and clearly labeled images help you confidently identify anatomic structures during clinical examinations and produce the best possible diagnostic images. Side-by-side presentation of anatomy illustrations and corresponding CT and MRI images clarifies the location and structure of sectional anatomy. ...

The Ancient Black Hebrews Vol II: The Forensic Proof Simply Explained

The Ancient Black Hebrews Vol II: The Forensic Proof Simply Explained
by Gert Muller (Author)


The author takes you through what forensic anthropologists look for to determine racial ancestry in a skeleton. He then uses this information to show Black traits in the ancient Biblical period skeletons that have been dug up in Israel. He finishes the book with pictures of Christian period Judeans who show these same features. Wonderfully Illustrated and simply written. This settles the issue once and for all!

Pediatric Physical Examination-: An Illustrated Handbook, 2e

Pediatric Physical Examination-: An Illustrated Handbook, 2e
by Karen Duderstadt RN PhD CPNP PCNS (Author)


"This handbook serves the needs of undergraduate medical students ,nursing students and is good refresher for Pediatric post graduates." Reviewed by: Neel Kamal, Date: Aug. 14 This portable, photo-rich guide to physical examination for Nurse Practitioners and other primary care providers will help you develop the unique range of skills required to assess children of all ages. System chapters begin with embryological development and review the key developmental stages of childhood. For infants and young children, this step-by-step guide uses the "quiet-to-active" approach favored by pediatric experts and considered more effective for this age-group than the traditional head-to-toe approach used for adults. Other key topics include pediatric mental health assessment and growth and...

Langman's Medical Embryology

Langman's Medical Embryology
by Thomas W. Sadler PhD (Author)


Langman's Medical Embryology covers embryology for medical, nursing, and health professions students with a strong clinical emphasis. The text is highly valued as a teaching and learning resource for its clinical correlation boxes, summaries, problems to solve, illustrations and clinical images, and clear, concise writing style—all of which make the subject matter accessible to students and relevant to instructors. Online material includes Simbryo—an animation program showing processes, organs, and systems developing in human embryos—as well as review questions and full text online. A separate Faculty Image Bank and PowerPoint presentations are also available.

Grant's Atlas of Anatomy, 13th Edition

Grant's Atlas of Anatomy, 13th Edition
by Anne M. R. Agur (Author), Arthur F. Dalley (Author)


A cornerstone of gross anatomy since 1943, Grant's Atlas of Anatomy reaches students worldwide with its realistic dissection illustrations, detailed surface anatomy photos, clinical images and comments, and quick-reference muscle tables. Renowned for its accuracy, pedagogy, and clinical relevance, this classic atlas boasts significant enhancements, including updated artwork, new conceptual diagrams, and vibrantly re-colored illustrations. Clinical material is clearly highlighted in blue text for easy identification.

The Human Bone Manual

The Human Bone Manual
by Tim D. White (Author), Pieter A. Folkens (Author)


Building on the success of their previous book, White and Folkens' The Human Bone Manual is intended for use outisde the laboratory and classroom, by professional forensic scientists, anthropologists and researchers. The compact volume includes all the key information needed for identification purposes, including hundreds of photographs designed to show a maximum amount of anatomical information.

* Features more than 500 color photographs and illustrations in a portable format; most in 1:1 ratio
* Provides multiple views of every bone in the human body
* Includes tips on identifying any human bone or tooth
* Incorporates up-to-date references for further study


© 2016 BrightSurf.com