Research ArticlePALEONTOLOGY

The evolution of modern human brain shape

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Science Advances  24 Jan 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 1, eaao5961
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao5961
  • Fig. 1 Differences in brain shape between a present-day human (left, in blue) and a Neandertal from La Chapelle-aux-Saints (right, in red).

    Endocasts are shown together with the triangulated landmark set used in this study and CT scan renderings of the crania.

  • Fig. 2 bgPCA of endocranial shape.

    H. erectus, triangles and orange convex hull; Neandertals, squares and red convex hull; H. heidelbergensis/rhodesiensis, dark red diamonds; present-day humans, light blue convex hull; H. sapiens fossils, circles and dark blue convex hulls for geologic age groups 1 to 3. Evolutionary trends of shape changes in archaic and modern individuals are shown as regressions on geologic age (arrows) (see fig. S2 for labels of fossil individuals).

  • Fig. 3 Gradual evolutionary changes of endocranial shape within H. sapiens fossils shown as a series of predicted shapes according to the regression on geologic age at 300,000 years ago (top), 100,000 years ago (middle), and 10,000 years ago (bottom and blue area in top and middle).

    Color coding in green (bottom) illustrates regions with surface size increase associated with this gradual shape changes. Lateral (left) and occipital (right) views (see also fig. S4 and movies S1 to S3).

  • Fig. 4 bgPCA of endocranial form.

    Symbols and colors as seen in Fig. 2. In addition to the evolutionary trend of shape changes in archaic and modern individuals (like in Fig. 2), allometric relationships are shown as regressions on centroid size (dotted lines) (see fig. S5 for labels of fossil individuals).

  • Table 1 Sample of H. sapiens fossils and comparative samples.

    Geologic ages used for regression analyses [in thousand years (ky)] were based on estimates in published literatures (references available upon request). Endocranial volume estimates of this study with SD of multiple estimates.

    H. sapiens fossils
      Geologic age group 1
        Jebel Irhoud 1315 ky1.375 ± 6 ml
        Jebel Irhoud 2315 ky1.467 ± 6 ml
        Omo 2195 ky1.491 ± 4 ml
      Geologic age group 2
        L.H. 18120 ky1.237 ± 5 ml
        Skhul V115 ky1.363 ± 1 ml
        Qafzeh 6115 ky1.524 ± 8 ml
        Qafzeh 9115 ky1.497 ± 5 ml
      Geologic age group 3
        Hofmeyr36 ky1.498 ± 13 ml
        Mladeč 135 ky1.606 ml
        Cro-Magnon 131 ky1.574 ± 1 ml
        Cro-Magnon 331 ky1.813 ± 32 ml
        Dolní Věstonice 1630 ky1.542 ± 4 ml
        Dolní Věstonice 1329 ky1.590 ± 2 ml
        Dolní Věstonice 1429 ky1.663 ± 5 ml
        Dolní Věstonice 1529 ky1.385 ± 3 ml
        Abri Pataud27 ky1.323 ml
        Ohalo II H222 ky1.475 ± 1 ml
        Oberkassel D99914 ky1.330 ± 2 ml
        Oberkassel D99813 ky1.492 ml
        Combe Capelle8 ky1.457 ± 2 ml
    Present-day humans
      89 cranially diverse
    present-day humans
    Mean ± SD: 1328 ± 164 ml
    Range: 1082–1832 ml
    Neandertals
      Gibraltar 175 ky1213 ± 4 ml
      La Ferrassie 170 ky1643 ± 5 ml
      Guattari55 ky1421 ± 3 ml
      Amud 153 ky1747 ± 16 ml
      La Chapelle-aux-Saints52 ky1490 ± 3 ml
      Feldhofer 140 ky1261 ± 28 ml
      Spy I40 ky1287 ± 9 ml
      Spy II40 ky1531 ± 7 ml
    H. heidelbergensis sensu lato
      Kabwe600–250 ky?1249 ml
      Petralona400–150 ky?1162 ± 2 ml
    H. erectus sensu lato
      KNM-ER 37331780 ky878 ± 2 ml
      KNM-ER 38331570 ky838 ± 1 ml
      KNM-WT 150001535 ky850 ± 4 ml
      OH 91470 ky1013 ± 4 ml
      Sangiran 21500 ky793 ± 4 ml
      Sambungmacan 3200 ky902 ± 4 ml
      Ngandong 14200 ky1127 ± 2 ml
      Ngawi200 ky952 ± 1 ml

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/4/1/eaao5961/DC1

    fig. S1. Landmark set used in this study.

    fig. S2. bgPCA of endocranial shape.

    fig. S3. Average endocranial shapes of H. erectus, Neandertals, and present-day humans that the bgPCA is based on.

    fig. S4. Visualization of surface area expansion associated with shape changes.

    fig. S5. bgPCA of endocranial form.

    fig. S6. Allometric relationships within archaic Homo representatives shown as a series of predicted shapes according to the regression on size.

    movie S1. Brain shape evolution in H. sapiens (lateral view).

    movie S2. Brain shape evolution in H. sapiens (occipital view).

    movie S3. Brain shape evolution in H. sapiens (inferior view).

    movie S4. Brain shape allometry in archaic Homo representatives (lateral view).

    movie S5. Brain shape allometry in archaic Homo representatives (occipital view).

    movie S6. Brain shape allometry in archaic Homo representatives (inferior view).

  • Supplementary Materials

    This PDF file includes:

    • fig. S1. Landmark set used in this study.
    • fig. S2. bgPCA of endocranial shape.
    • fig. S3. Average endocranial shapes of H. erectus, Neandertals, and present-day humans that the bgPCA is based on.
    • fig. S4. Visualization of surface area expansion associated with shape changes.
    • fig. S5. bgPCA of endocranial form.
    • fig. S6. Allometric relationships within archaic Homo representatives shown as a series of predicted shapes according to the regression on size.
    • Legends for movies S1 to S6

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    Other Supplementary Material for this manuscript includes the following:

    • movie S1 (.mp4 format). Brain shape evolution in H. sapiens (lateral view).
    • movie S2 (.mp4 format). Brain shape evolution in H. sapiens (occipital view).
    • movie S3 (.mp4 format). Brain shape evolution in H. sapiens (inferior view).
    • movie S4 (.mp4 format). Brain shape allometry in archaic Homo representatives (lateral view).
    • movie S5 (.mp4 format). Brain shape allometry in archaic Homo representatives (occipital view).
    • movie S6 (.mp4 format). Brain shape allometry in archaic Homo representatives (inferior view).

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