Survival of the brainiacs: Controversial new thesis says humans evolved smarter to capture smaller prey

Credit: Yan Li/Paleozoological Museum of China
Credit: Yan Li/Paleozoological Museum of China

As the largest animals on the landscape disappeared, the scientists propose, human brains had to grow to enable the hunting of smaller, swifter prey. 

This hypothesis argues that early humans specialized in taking down the largest animals, such as elephants, which would have provided ample fatty meals. When these animals’ numbers declined, humans with bigger brains, who presumably had more brainpower, were better at adapting and capturing smaller prey, which led to better survival for the brainiacs. 

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

The hypothesis also explains why brain size shrank slightly, to about 80 cubic inches (1,300 cubic cm), after farming began: The extra tissue was no longer needed to maximize hunting success.

ADVERTISEMENT

This new hypothesis bucks a trend in human origins studies. Many scholars in the field now argue that human brains grew in response to a lot of little pressures, rather than one big one. But Tel Aviv University archaeologists Miki Ben-Dor and Ran Barkai argue that one major change in the environment would provide a better explanation.

“We see the decline in prey size as a unifying explanation not only to brain expansion, but to many other transformations in human biology and culture, and we claim it provides a good incentive for these changes,” [said] Barkai.

Read the original post

Related article:  Here's why so many of us are spooked by artificial intelligence?
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Genetics Unzipped
Infographic: Deaths from COVID-19 are far higher than reported estimates

Infographic: Deaths from COVID-19 are far higher than reported estimates

More than 2.8 million people have lost their lives due to the pandemic, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis ...
seralinistud

Gilles-Éric Séralini: Activist professor and face of anti-GMO industry

The French biologist and his research team--funded by the Rodale ...
vandana shiva

Vandana Shiva: ‘Rock Star’ of GMO protest movement has anti-science history

In a 2012 interview, Bill Moyers referred to Vandana Shiva as ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend