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Title: Human paleoneurology: shaping cortical evolution in fossil hominids
Authors: Bruner, Emiliano
Keywords: Brain morphology;Evolutionary neuroanatomy;Functional craniology;Human evolution;Parietal cortex
Issue Date: Jul-2019
Publisher: Wiley
Citation: Journal of Comparative Neurology, 2019, 527 (10), 1753-1765
Abstract: Evolutionary neuroanatomy must integrate two different sources of information, namely from fossil and from living species. Fossils supply information concerning the process of evolution, whereas living species supply information on the product of evolution. Unfortunately, the fossil record is partial and fragmented, and often cannot support validations for specific evolutionary hypotheses. Living species can provide more comprehensive indications, but they do not represent ancestral groups or primitive forms. Macaques or chimpanzees are frequently used as proxy for human ancestral conditions, despite the fact they are divergent and specialized lineages, with their own biological features. Similarly, in paleoanthropology independent lineages (such as Neanderthals) should not be confused with ancestral modern human stages. In this comparative framework, paleoneurology deals with the analysis of the endocranial cavity in extinct species, in order to make inferences on brain evolution. A main target of this field is to distinguish the endocranial variations due to brain changes, from those due to cranial constraints. Digital anatomy and computed morphometrics have provided major advances in this field. However, brains and endocasts can be hard to analyze with geometrical models, because of uncertainties due to the localization of cortical landmarks and boundaries. The study of the evolution of the parietal cortex supplies an interesting case‐study in which paleontological and neontological data can integrate and test evolutionary hypotheses based on multiple sources of evidence. The relationships with visuospatial functions and brain–body–tool integration stress further that the analysis of the cognitive system should go beyond the neural boundaries of the brain.
ISSN: 0021-9967
DOI: 10.1002/cne.24591
Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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