Cognitive and behavioral modernity in Homo erectus: skull globularity and hominin brain evolution

Authors

  • Gary Clark Biological Anthropology and Comparative Anatomy Unit, Adelaide Medical School, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
  • Maciej Henneberg Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, The University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.2478/anre-2021-0030

Keywords:

Cranial shape, masticatory adaptations, Acheulian industry, cognition, Homo erectus

Abstract

In this article we provide evidence that evolutionary pressures altered the cranial base and the mastoid region of the temporal bone more than the calvaria in the transition from H. erectus to H. sapiens. This process seems to have resulted in the evolution of more globular skull shape – but not as a result of expansion of the brain in the parietal regions but of reduction of the cranial base and the mastoid region relative to the parietals. Consequently, we argue that expansion of the parietals seems to be unrelated to brain evolution, but is more a by-product of reduction in other regions of the skull, reduction that may be related to dietary factors. Additionally, these findings suggest that cognitive and behavioural modernity may not necessarily be dependent on brain shape. Also, it cannot be attributed to the change in brain size because H. erectus and modern human cranial capacities overlap substantially. Consequently, we suggest H. erectus possessed the full suite of cognitive adaptations characteristic of modern humans without possessing a globular skull with flared parietals. Our results also support the theory that paedomorphic morphogenesis of the skull was important in the transition from H. erectus to H. sapiens and that such changes may be related to both dietary factors and social evolution.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Abbie A. 1975. Studies in Physical Anthropology, vol.II. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra.
View in Google Scholar

Antón SC. 1997. Developmental age and taxonomic affinity of the Mojokerto child, Java, Indonesia’, Am J Phys Anthropol 102(4):497–514.
View in Google Scholar

Balzeau A, Grimaud-Hervé D, Jacob T. 2005. Internal cranial features of the Mojokerto child fossil (East Java, Indonesia). J Hum Evol 48(6):535–53.
View in Google Scholar

Bednarik RG. 1995. Concept-Mediated Marking in the Lower Palaeolithic. Curr Anthropol 36(4):605–34.
View in Google Scholar

Bednarik RG. 2011. The Human Condition. New York: Springer New York.
View in Google Scholar

Bednarik RG. 2013. Creating the Human Past: An Epistemology of Pleistocene Archaeology, Archaeopress.
View in Google Scholar

Bednarik RG. 2015. The First Mariners. Bentham Science Publishers.
View in Google Scholar

Benítez-Burraco A, Kempe V. 2018. The Emergence of Modern Languages: Has Human Self-Domestication Optimized Language Transmission?. Frontiers in Psychology 9(551) April-17.
View in Google Scholar

Bhattacharya A, Bhatia A, Patel D, Mehta N, Parekh H, Trivedi R. 2014. Evaluation of relationship between cranial base angle and maxillofacial morphology in Indian population: A cephalometric study. J Orthodon Sci 3(3):74–80.
View in Google Scholar

Bjork A. 1950. Some biological aspects of prognathism and occlusion of the teeth. Acta Odontol Scand 9(1):1–40.
View in Google Scholar

Boeckx C, Benítez-Burraco A. 2014. The shape of the human language-ready brain. Fron Psychol 5(282) 2014-April-04.
View in Google Scholar

Bolk L. 1909. On the position and displacement of the foramen magnum in the primates. Verh Akad Wet 12:362–377.
View in Google Scholar

Bowler JM, Johnston H, Olley JM, Prescott JR, Roberts RG, Shawcross W, Spooner NA. 2003. New ages for human occupation and climatic change at Lake Mungo, Australia. Nature 421(6925):837–40.
View in Google Scholar

Bowler JM, Jones R, Allen H, Thorne AG. 1970. Pleistocene human remains from Australia: a living site and human cremation from Lake Mungo, Western New South Wales. World Archaeology 2(1):39–60.
View in Google Scholar

Bowler JM, Price DM, Sherwood J, Carey SP. 2018. The Moyjil Site, South-West Victoria, Australia: Fire And Environment In A 120,000-Year Coastal Midden —Nature Or People?. The Royal Society of Victoria 130:71–93.
View in Google Scholar

Bowler JM, Thorne AG. 1976. Human Remains from Lake Mungo. In: RL Kirk and AG Thorne (editors). The Origin of the Australians. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra, Australia, pp. 127–38.
View in Google Scholar

Carhart-Harris RL, Friston KJ. 2010. The default-mode, ego-functions and free-energy: a neurobiological account of Freudian ideas. Brain 133(4):1265–83.
View in Google Scholar

Carhart-Harris RL, Leech R, Hellyer PJ, Shanahan M, Feilding A, Tagliazucchi E, Chialvo DR, Nutt D. 2014. The entropic brain: a theory of conscious states informed by neuroimaging research with psychedelic drugs. Front Hum Neurosci. doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00020.
View in Google Scholar

Cieri RL, Churchill SE, Franciscus, RG, Tan J, Hare B. 2014. Craniofacial Feminization, Social Tolerance, and the Origins of Behavioral Modernity. Curr Anthropol 55(4):419–43.
View in Google Scholar

Clark G, Henneberg M. 2015. The life history of Ardipithecus ramidus: a heterochronic model of sexual and social maturation. Anthropol Rev 78(2):109–32.
View in Google Scholar

Clark G, Henneberg M. 2017. Ardipithecus ramidus and the evolution of language and singing: An early origin for hominin vocal capability. HOMO 68(2):101–21.
View in Google Scholar

Clarkson C, Jacobs Z, Marwick B, Fullagar R, Wallis L, Smith M et al. 2017, Human occupation of northern Australia by 65,000 years ago. Nature 547:306–10.
View in Google Scholar

Curnoe D. 2011. A 150-year conundrum: cranial robusticity and its bearing on the origin of Aboriginal Australians. Int J Evol Biol 2011:632484.
View in Google Scholar

Curnoe D, Green H. 2013. Vault thickness in two Pleistocene Australian crania. J Archaeol Sci 40(2):1310–8.
View in Google Scholar

Dean MC, Wood BA. 1984. Phylogeny, Neoteny and Growth of the Cranial Base in Hominoids. Folia Primatologica 43(2–3)157–80.
View in Google Scholar

DeLouize AM, Coolidge FL, Wynn T. 2017. Dopaminergic systems expansion and the advent of Homo erectus. Quaternary International 427:245–52.
View in Google Scholar

Durband AC. 2009. Southeast Asian and Australian paleoanthropology: a review of the last century. J Anthropol Sci 87:7–31.
View in Google Scholar

Fox CL, Martín AG, Civit SV. 1996. Cranial variation in the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands: Inferences about the history of the population. Am J Phys Anthropol 99(3):413–28.
View in Google Scholar

Górny S. 1957. Crania africana: Uganda. Wroclaw: PWN.
View in Google Scholar

Gould SJ. 1977. Ontogeny and Phylogeny. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
View in Google Scholar

Grün R, Spooner N, Magee J, Thorne A, Simpson J, Yan G, Mortimer G. 2011. Stratigraphy and chronology of the WLH 50 human remains, Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area, Australia. J Hum Evol 60(5):597–604.
View in Google Scholar

Hare B. 2017. Survival of the Friendliest: Homo sapiens Evolved via Selection for Prosociality. Annu Rev Psychol 68:155–86.
View in Google Scholar

Hiatt B. 1969. Cremation in Aboriginal Australia. Mankind 7(2):104–19.
View in Google Scholar

Hylander WL. 2013. Functional links between canine height and jaw gape in catarrhines with special reference to early hominins. Am J Phys Anthropol 150(2):247–59.
View in Google Scholar

Isler K, Kirk CE, Miller JM, Albrecht GA, Gelvin BR, Martin RD. 2008. Endocranial volumes of primate species: scaling analyses using a comprehensive and reliable data set. J Hum Evol 55(6):967–78.
View in Google Scholar

Knight C. 1995. Blood Relations: Menstruation and the Origins of Culture. New Haven and London: Yale University Press,.
View in Google Scholar

Knight C. 2009. Early Human Kinship was Matrilineal. New Jersey: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Hoboken, pp. 61–82.
View in Google Scholar

Knight C, Power C, Watts I, Power C. 2008. The Human Symbolic Revolution: A Darwinian Account. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 5(1):75–114.
View in Google Scholar

Kuman K, Li C, Li H. 2014. Large cutting tools in the Danjiangkou Reservoir Region, central China. J Hum Evol 76:129–53.
View in Google Scholar

Li H, Li C, Kuman K. 2014. Rethinking the “Acheulean” in East Asia: Evidence from recent investigations in the Danjiangkou Reservoir Region, central China. Quaternary International 347:163–75.
View in Google Scholar

Lieberman D. 2011. The Evolution of the Human Head. Harvard University Press.
View in Google Scholar

Lieberman D, McBratney BM, Krovitz G. 2002. The evolution and development of cranial form in Homo sapiens. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 99(3):1134–9.
View in Google Scholar

Lieberman D, Pearson OM, Mowbray KM. 2000. Basicranial influence on overall cranial shape. J Hum Evol 38(2):291–315.
View in Google Scholar

Lou HC, Changeux JP, Rosenstand A. 2017. Towards a cognitive neuroscience of self-awareness. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 83:765–73.
View in Google Scholar

Lovejoy CO. 2009. Reexamining Human Origins in Light of Ardipithecus ramidus. Science 326(5949):71–78, 74e71–74e78.
View in Google Scholar

Lubsen K, Corruccini RS. 2011. Morphometric Analysis of the Herto Cranium (BOU-VP-16/1): Where Does It Fit?. J Contemp Anthropol 2:1–16.
View in Google Scholar

Mars RB, Neubert F-X, Noonan MP, Sallet J, Toni I, Rushworth MFS. 2012. On the relationship between the “default mode network” and the “social brain”. Fron Hum Neurosci 6:189.
View in Google Scholar

McKinnon MR, Simpson EK, Henneberg. M 2018. Growth Patterns and Individual Variation in Mid-sagittal Facial Soft Tissue Depth from Childhood to Adulthood. J Foren Sci 63(6):1641–51.
View in Google Scholar

Milicerowa H. 1955. Crania Australica. Wroclaw: PWN.
View in Google Scholar

Morant GM. 1930. Studies of Paleolithic Man. Annals of Eugenics 4(1–2):109–214.
View in Google Scholar

Neubauer S, Hublin J-J, Gunz P. 2018. The evolution of modern human brain shape. Science Advances 4(1):eaao5961.
View in Google Scholar

Niego A, Benítez-Burraco A. 2019. Williams Syndrome, Human Self-Domestication, and Language Evolution. Fron Psychol 10(521).
View in Google Scholar

Ostby Y, Walhovd KB, Tamnes CK, Grydeland H, Westlye LT, Fjell AM. 2012. Mental time travel and default-mode network functional connectivity in the developing brain. PNAS 109(42):16800–4.
View in Google Scholar

Parsons KJ, Albertson RC. 2009. Roles for Bmp4 and CaM1 in Shaping the Jaw: Evo-Devo and Beyond. Annu Rev Genet 43(1):369–88.
View in Google Scholar

Power C. 2004. Women in Prehistoric Rock Art. In: G Berghaus (editor). New Perspectives on Prehistoric Art. Praeger, Westport, CT/London, pp. 75–103.
View in Google Scholar

Previc FH. 1999. Dopamine and the Origins of Human Intelligence. Brain Cogn 41(3):299–350.
View in Google Scholar

Previc FH. 2009. The Dopaminergic Mind in Human Evolution and History. Cambridge University Press.
View in Google Scholar

Progovac L, Benítez-Burraco A. 2019. From Physical Aggression to Verbal Behavior: Language Evolution and Self-Domestication Feedback Loop. Fron Psychol 10(2807) 2019-December-18.
View in Google Scholar

Qiu L, Su J, Ni Y, Bai Y, Zhang X, Li X, Wan X. 2018. The neural system of metacognition accompanying decision-making in the prefrontal cortex. PLOS Biology 26(4):e2004037-e2004037.
View in Google Scholar

Rightmire GP. 2013. Homo erectus and Middle Pleistocene hominins: brain size, skull form, and species recognition. J Hum Evol 65(3):223–52.
View in Google Scholar

Rilling JK, Barks SK, Parr LA, Preuss TM, Faber TL, Pagnoni G, Bremner JD, Votaw JR. 2007. A comparison of resting-state brain activity in humans and chimpanzees. PNAS 104(43):17146–51.
View in Google Scholar

Roche AF, Lewis AB. 1976. Late Growth Changes in the Cranial Base. In: JF Bosma (editor). Symposium on Development of the Basicranium, University of Michigan, Michigan, USA.
View in Google Scholar

Roche AF, Lewis AB, Wainer H, McCartin R. 1977. Late Elongation of the Cranial Base. J Dental Res 56(7):802–8.
View in Google Scholar

Russo GA, Kirk EC. 2017. Another look at the foramen magnum in bipedal mammals. J Hum Evol 105:24–40.
View in Google Scholar

Sejrsen B, Jakobsen J, Skovgaard LT, Kjaer I. 1997. Growth in the external cranial base evaluated on human dry skulls, using nerve canal openings as references. Acta Odontol Scand 55(6):356–64.
View in Google Scholar

Shen C, Gao X, Wei Q. 2011. The Earliest Hominin Occupations in the Nihewan Basin of Northern China: Recent Progress in Field Investigations. In: CJ Norton, and DR Braun (editors). Asian Paleoanthropology: From Africa to China and Beyond. Dordrecht Springer Netherlands, pp. 169–180.
View in Google Scholar

Sterelny K. 2012. The Evolved Apprentice, MIT Press.
View in Google Scholar

Stout D, Hecht E, Khreisheh N, Bradley B, Chaminade T. 2015. Cognitive Demands of Lower Paleolithic Toolmaking. PLOS ONE 10(4):e0121804.
View in Google Scholar

Suwa G, Asfaw B, Kono RT, Kubo D, Lovejoy CO, White TD. 2009. The Ardipithecus ramidus Skull and Its Implications for Hominid Origins. Science 326(5949):68–68, 68e61–68e67.
View in Google Scholar

Thorne AG. 1976. Morphological contrasts in Pleistocene Australians. In: RL Kirk, and AG Thorn (editors). The Origin of the Australians, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. Canberra, Australia, pp. 95–112.
View in Google Scholar

Wang W, Lycett SJ, von Cramon-Taubadel N, Jin JJH, Bae CJ. 2012. Comparison of Handaxes from Bose Basin (China) and the Western Acheulean Indicates Convergence of Form, Not Cognitive Differences. PLOS ONE 7(4):e35804.
View in Google Scholar

Watts I, Chazan M, Wilkins J. 2016. Early Evidence for Brilliant Ritualized Display: Specularite Use in the Northern Cape (South Africa) between 500 and 300 Ka. Curr Anthropol 57(3):287–310.
View in Google Scholar

Webb S. 2006. The First Boat People. Cambridge University Press.
View in Google Scholar

Webb S. 2018a. Chapter 10 – Willandra Lakes Skeletal Collection: A Photographic and Descriptive Catalogue. In: S Webb (editor). Made in Africa. Academic Press, pp. 301–400.
View in Google Scholar

Webb S. 2018b. Made in Africa: Hominin Explorations and the Australian Skeletal Evidence, Elsevier Science.
View in Google Scholar

Weidenreich F. 1943. The Skull of Sinanthropus Pekinensis: A Comparative Study on a Primitive Hominid Skull, Geological Survey of China.
View in Google Scholar

White TD, Asfaw B, DeGusta D, Gilbert H, Richards GD, Suwa G, Clark Howell F. 2003. Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia. Nature 423(6941):742–7.
View in Google Scholar

Wokroj F. 1953. Wczesnos redniowieczne czaszki polskie z Ostrowa Lednickiego. Materialy i Prace Antropologiczne, vol. 1.
View in Google Scholar

Yamei H, Potts R, Baoyin Y, Zhengtang G, Deino A, Wei W, Clark J, Guangmao X, Weiwen H. 2000. Mid-Pleistocene Acheulean-like Stone Technology of the Bose Basin, South China. Science 287(5458):1622.
View in Google Scholar

Yang S-X, Petraglia MD, Hou Y-M, Yue J-P, Deng C-L, Zhu R-X. 2017. The lithic assemblages of Donggutuo, Nihewan basin: Knapping skills of Early Pleistocene hominins in North China. PLOS ONE 12(9):e0185101.
View in Google Scholar

Downloads

Published

2021-12-30

How to Cite

Clark, G., & Henneberg, M. (2021). Cognitive and behavioral modernity in Homo erectus: skull globularity and hominin brain evolution. Anthropological Review, 84(4), 467–485. https://doi.org/10.2478/anre-2021-0030

Issue

Section

Articles

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>