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Unstrange Phenomena

31 July 2009

Did an ice age boost human brain size?

From New Scientist: Did an ice age boost human brain size?

From Denny: We all wonder just how did the human brain evolve and become larger. Who knows? We may still be evolving and developing larger brains? As always, it's best to study our past to learn what might trend for our future.

It was 2.5 million years ago that our ancestors' brains expanded in size. BTW, it also coincided with an ice age. Hmmm...? Scientists wonder if there was a connection.

Did you know the modern human brain is a real energy glutton? C'mon, you feel hungry after spending a lot of time on the computer, don't you? I sure do; I know my brain is actually the hungry guy. Turns out that the brain accounts for almost half of our resting metabolic rate! Whew!

A decade old hypothesis by biologists David Schwartzman and George Middendorf of Howard University in Washington, D.C. suggests that our modern brain could not have evolved until that 2.5 million years ago ice age. Why? Their idea is that "such a large brain would have generated heat faster than it could dissipate it in the warmer climate of earlier times." Problem is that they couldn't prove it back then.

Apparently, a Climate researcher, Axel Kleidon of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany has been doing some research that could help prove the ice age-larger brain connection.

It does make you wonder if the ice age brought a bigger brain does this warmer climate change bring a smaller brain? Hmmm... back to stupid is as stupid does? :)

To find out and read the rest of their article, go here.
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