Research highlight

Comparing Neanderthal and modern human brains

Nature Communications

December 14, 2011

Homo sapiens have unique structures at the base of the brain compared to Neanderthals reports a study in Nature Communications this week. Two genetically different evolutionary lineages, Neandertals and modern humans, have produced similarly large-brained human species, however, the differing brain reorganisation reported in this study, along with the overall skull shape, may have contributed to learning and social capacities in H. sapiens. Markus Bastir and colleagues carried out 3D surface shape analysis of the modern human and Neanderthal skulls to reveal unique features, such as larger olfactory bulbs in modern humans. This suggests a higher sensory system for smell, which could have had an impact on the neurological and behavioural evolution of modern humans.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms1593

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