Feeds

Researchers link human skull size and climate

Hot head v cool head v Mr Potato Head

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.