Feeds

Researchers link human skull size and climate

Hot head v cool head v Mr Potato Head

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Humans grew bigger brains as the climate they lived in got cooler, according to researchers at the University at Albany, New York.

The researchers concluded that humans got brainier because they had to adapt to a more challenging environment. They base this assertion on a plot of cranial capacity of 109 fossilised human skulls against the corresponding paleontological record of two million years of changing climate.

As well as a relationship between a cooling earth and growing skulls, the researchers report that where the skulls were found matters, too, because the further you get from the Equator, the more varied the weather becomes.

Gordon G Gallup Jr, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the university, and co-author of the work along with graduate student Jessica Ash, commented: "It became clear that seasonal variation in climate may also have been an important selective force behind the evolution of human cranial capacity. Specifically, we found that as the distance from the Equator increased, north or south, so did brain size."

Lower temperatures and seasonal variations threw up new challenges for the early human, such as fluctuations in the availability of food and the need for fire and clothes to keep warm, the researchers argue. More co-operation would have been needed to find, preserve, and store food; and the people would have needed more complex tools. Along with that, more intricate social structures would have evolved, which in turn would have required more grey matter.

The researchers suggest that having to adapt to the impact of lower temperatures could account for as much as 50 per cent of the increase in the size of our skulls.

The researchers don't mention whether or not the extra small human skull found on the island of Flores was included in the sample. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.