Human Brain And Teeth Did Not Evolve In Lock Step

Posted: Jan 3 2017, 9:45am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Human Brain and Teeth Did Not Evolve in Lock Step
This is a 3-D reconstruction of a modern human cranium showing the teeth and endocranial cast. Credit: George Washington University

A new study reveals there is no link in the evolution of brain and tooth size

New research shows that different species had different rates for the evolution of brain size and Homo, the genus including human’s chewing teeth had more similar rates of evolution.

The research from the George Washington University's Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology (CASHP) also shows that human teeth and brain evolution did not involve lock step; instead they were affected by different factors, including behavioral and ecological factors.

The researchers find this study a challenge for traditional way of thinking that the tooth size reduction in hominins is due to large brain. The scientists gave a reason for this belief that large brains permitted hominins to make and use stone tools, and the tools eliminated the need for large chewing teeth.

Another researcher from a recent research said that, the size of hominins brains became large after the teeth got smaller, and stone tools were used when brains were small. And the study challenges this complex relationship.

The new research measured the rates at which brains and teeth evolved and also compared them. The study involved different parts of human evolutionary tree.

The findings show that, the relationship between tools, brain size and tooth size seems right after considering the hominin evolution, and the time when changes happened in the evolution, stated Aida Gómez-Robles, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral scientist at GW's CASHP.

Dr. Gómez-Robles and her colleagues took eight hominin species and checked fast evolution in certain species, and found a difference between the brain and tooth evolution.

If the traditional view shows a link between teeth and brain, the researchers believed to observe a close link between species that evolved fast in both traits. The researchers found that the factors that effected evolution of brain and teeth were entirely different in both cases.

A conventional wisdom soon becomes dogma, and the link between brains and teeth was about to become dogma, but the scientists grabbed it right at the moment, stated Bernard Wood, university professor of human origins at GW and a co-author of the paper.

This research got published on January 2 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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