Research ArticleGENETICS

A single splice site mutation in human-specific ARHGAP11B causes basal progenitor amplification

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Science Advances  07 Dec 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 12, e1601941
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601941

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  • RE: Homo's brain expansion early-Pleistocene?

    Thanks for this fascinating article. You write: "The ability of ARHGAP11B to amplify BPs likely arose more recently" than ~5 Ma, but when exactly? The Mojokerto child on Java (possibly ~1.8 Ma) had a cranial capacity of ~640 cc, arguably corresponding with an adult CC of ~800-900 cc (Coqueugniot 2004 Nature 431:299, Cofran & DeSilva 2015 J.hum.Evol. 81:41), which suggests Homo's brain expansion was well on its way early-Pleistocene. The growing brain required brain-specific nutrients such as DHA, iodine, taurine and micro-elements (e.g. Cunnane 2005 Survival of the fattest. World Scient., Verhaegen & Munro 2013 J.compar.hum.Biol. 62:237). The Mojokerto child was found amid freshwater and marine shells and barnacles, probably in a wide river delta, where these brain-specific nutrients were abundant. This suggests Pleistocene Homo did not disperse intercontinentally walking or even running over hot open plains as still assumed in many traditional and popular accounts of human evolution (this can't explain human poor olfaction, poor renal concentration capacity, high water needs etc.), but initially simply followed the African and Eurasian coasts, and from there eventually ventured inland along the waterways. During the Pleistocene glacials, sea-levels dropped, and vast continental shelves, rich in littoral foods, became available for bipedally-wading, dextrous, tool-using and intelligent hominids, and in a relatively short evolutionary time they c...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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