apologies for cross postings, but this is exactly what Niteline tonight
will be discussing- especially in the gracialization+ wimpiness angle.
Students may be asking about this in the morning.
From: Andrew Petto <ajpetto@...
Sent: Sat, Nov 14, 2009 11:43 am
Subject: Re: [SACC-L] smaller brains?
There are a couple of things here to consider.
1. It is true that the Neanderthals had larger brains than we do, so in
one sense, we do have smaller brains, on average, than Neanderthals
2. There has been a pretty well documented gracilization of modern
humans (mostly males) over the last several thousand years. I am not
sure that there is any significant decrease in brain size, but smaller
bodies do tend to come with smaller brains (though the brain:body
in smaller individuals --- like females, for example --- tend to be
3. In terms of evolutionary trends, there is no evidence of
significantly smaller brains. Except for those with pathologies, none
the brains of normal-sized modern humans is small enough to fall out of
the range that separates H sapiens from other hominan species.
Even so (and I did manage to sit through about 20 minutes of that film
on cable --- ugh!), within species, there is no good evidence that
size relates to intelligence (no matter how we measure it). The
differences that relate rain size to intelligence are all INTERspecific
and very generalized.
So, unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to use to evaluate
this claim, because there is no scientific evidence that would support
This is not new, but it does discuss the issues: BRUNER E
Encephalization and allometric trajectories in the genus Homo: Evidence
from the Neandertal and modern lineages
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA 100 : 15335 DOI 10.7073/pnas.2536671100 2003
Bob Muckle wrote:
> A piece on 'LiveScience" about human evolution says that brain size
> has been shrinking in recent millenia http://cli.gs/qUEHZ
> This kind of reminds me of that movie called 'Idiocracy' or something
> like that, with Luke Wilson. It was a lame movie with an interesting
> premise: Everybody keeps getting dumber (except normal guy -Luke
> Wilson - who went into some kind of coma) and when he came out a long
> time later, he was the smartest guy in the world).
> Does anybody know of any good scholarly source showing that brain
> is shrinking?
Andrew J Petto, PhD
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
PO Box 413
Milwaukee WI 53201-0413
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