Why did people 3,000 years ago have a bigger brain than ours?

Man lost at least 3,000 gray ping pong balls in 3,000 years: his prehistoric brain was larger than it is today.

Even with the advancement of technology and science, the historical course of man has not led to a larger brain. On the contrary, according to a study by Dartmouth College in the USA, prehistoric people had a slightly higher brain mass than our contemporaries.

According to the calculations of the anthropologist Jeremy DeSilva, the volume that Homo sapiens sapiens losing is the equivalent of four ping-pong balls. Based on the study of fossilized skulls at least three millennia old, scientists have observed that the brains of prehistoric humans were larger than those of humans today.

Smaller and smaller bodies

Photo: Getty Images

Over the millennia, prehistoric people have ceased to be nomads. The development of agriculture and the domestication of animals were decisive factors so that, instead of constantly migrating, groups of people settled in various places on the planet.

However, several thousand years passed before prehistoric people laid the foundations of the first civilizations. DeSilva and his team believe that this has helped shrink the brain from prehistory to the present day.

The research team noted that, in parallel, human size has also decreased over time. In other words, today’s bodies are smaller than prehistoric ones.

The same thing happened with the brain, although there is not yet enough information to indicate a causal relationship between the two phenomena (shrinking body and shrinking brain).

Does a smaller brain mean a worse person?

The authors of the study, recently published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, do not think it is a coincidence that writing appeared at the same time as the beginning of the prehistoric brain shrinking.

DeSilva believes that this evolution has had a major impact on the evolutionary path of our species.

As writing is one of the things that sets us apart from other species, DeSilva wonders if this might have influenced the brain’s volume by “outsourcing written information and being able to communicate ideas by accessing information that is outside one’s own brain.” “Notes the BBC.

Although it seems like an attractive proposition, it remains speculation for the time being, as there is still no conclusive evidence to that effect.

The truth is that the prehistoric brain was bigger than the contemporary one. However, this does not mean that people are more intellectually limited.

On the contrary, a decrease in brain mass suggests an adaptation to a different environment. Moreover, the study authors explain, it is not just the volume of the brain that matters; the cognitive capacity of animals derives from many more factors than the total mass of gray matter.

Therefore, the fact that we have a smaller brain does not mean that we are less capable than our ancestors in the mists of history.

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