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"Brain", were our ancestors more intelligent? ~ Dr. Antonio Giordano (Sbarro Institute / SHRO)

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Brain, were our ancestors more intelligent?

'Honey, I shrunk my intelligence'

It may seem unbelievable, but a recent study on the evolution of the brain was just published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. The size of the human brain has allegedly shrunk starting 3,000 years ago, according to a group of experts from Dartmouth College in Hanover.

According to Antonio Giordano, Founder and Director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine of the Temple University of Philadelphia and Professor of Anatomy and Pathological Histology at the University of Siena, "The reason why our brain has shrunk has always been a great mystery to anthropologists. The Dartmouth College study also noted that the brain of early Homo habilis reached a weight of 600 grams, whereas the brain of Australopithecus, which lived more than 3 million years ago, had only a weight of 400 grams, comparable to a chimpanzee or a gorilla."

And us?

"Homo sapiens, the species to which we belong, currently has a brain mass of 1,350 grams," according to Prof Giordano, "The rise in intelligence has paralleled the progress made, thanks to improved diet, larger social groups, as well as cutting-edge technological advancements. Yet in comparison to Pleistocene people, our brains have shrunk."

The experts report: "We examined 985 fossil and contemporary human skulls to arrive at this data. The researchers postulate that the reduction happened as a result of collective intelligence," or the sharing of information among big human groups, as well as the division of labor and tasks. Thus, according to the Dartmouth team, 'our brains have shrunk by 10% since 3,000 years ago.'

It was possible to comprehend how group decision-making and labor division, as well as the production and procurement of food in groups, have induced habits that have consolidated themselves and made group cooperation stronger than the single individual to influence changes in the size of the human brain over time, continues Professor Antonio Giordano, "Our ancestors did have larger brains, but the social evolution has revealed the fact that living in a group has maintained collaboration and survival while determining a 10% decline in the volume of the same."

Professor Giordano concludes that "social evolution is worth a reduced brain size, teaching us that the individualism of our ancestors developed many necessary skills and attitudes out of necessity, given that they lived as single individuals, but this characteristic does not favor the evolutionary process, the overcoming of obstacles, and the development of human society."

This article was first published by Dr. Antonio Giordano in Italian for Fortune Italia, click here to read.

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