The Evolution of the Human Brain: How It Differs from Our Ancestors and Why?

1768 Words Jul 20th, 2013 8 Pages
The Evolution of the Human Brain:
How it Differs From Our Ancestors and Why?
The human brain is a feat of evolution: it has allowed humans to have complex thoughts, conscience, build tools, create fires, and much more. Humans did not acquire this simply by chance. Evolution throughout our ancestral past has shaped and moulded the human mind to its state. The earliest of ancestors, including apes, had very small brains, but as evolution progressed, so too did the human brain. The rapid progression of human intelligence has been attributed to environmental changes causing humans to change with their surroundings for survival. This lead to the expansion of specific areas of the brain, vastly differing maturation of humans compared to our
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The neocortex is associated as being the area of the brain responsible for complex cognitive processes affiliated with reasoning and consciousness. (Dunbar, 2007; Flinn, Geary, & Ward, 2005)
Although a larger brain in theory may on the surface appear to have its benefits, it comes with many challenges. The adult human brain weighs about two percent of total body weight, but consuming over twenty percent of the body’s energy. (Dunbar, 2007; McKie, 2000) This has led to significant changes in the dietary needs of humans, such as the introduction of meats, fats and proteins to the diet. Unlike apes, hominid mothers needed to eat more foods that provided higher concentrations of dietary fats, such as bone marrow and animal brains. This allowed the mothers to provide fatter and more nutrient-rich milk to their infants, essential to brain growth. (Sloan & Garrett, 2004) Thus, improved quality of diet is selected by improved motor cognition skills, better recognition of higher quality foods, and improved tactics of acquiring them. (Roth & Dicke, 2005) This larger brain is also the foremost reason as to the extended childhood of Homo sapiens in comparison to primates and human ancestors. Extended childhood in humans was fundamental for brain development since fetal brain development was restricted due to bipedalism causing smaller birth-canals. Furthermore, the longer duration for brain development provided time for complex development and experience to acquire

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