Studying the evolution of the human brain based on the remains of our ancestors is not an easy task. Therefore, researchers sometimes make hypotheses based on the observation of animals similar to ours. This time it was ants.
They may not be physically similar to us, but we have many things in common with them. Especially when it comes to our social life, for example dividing tasks, making collective decisions or producing food. According to Dr. James Traniello, thanks to this similarity, by studying ants, we can learn about the factors that influence the development of our brains. Traniello’s team decided to use this to find an answer to the question why 3,000 years ago, the human brain shrank.
The brains of several different species of ants were examined. Its size, structure and amount of energy used. Based on the knowledge gained, an interesting conclusion was made. It turns out that the brain can evolve to increase its efficiency. In a group in which individuals share their knowledge and specialize in specific duties, The increase in efficiency occurs, among other things, by reducing the size.
If a single ant didn’t have to do everything on its own, its brain might be smaller. Then it uses less energy and therefore needs less food to function. From an evolutionary point of view, this gives the species a better chance of survival. It could be the same for humans.
As we developed civilization and divided responsibilities and knowledge into different representatives of society, larger brains became redundant. For now, this is just a scientific hypothesis, and researchers are waiting for more data to confirm it. However, if this turns out to be true, it is possible that another brain shrinkage will occur in the future. We rely more and more on knowledge derived from the internet, and we need less and less to remember ourselves, so you may find that a smaller brain will be more efficient.
We also cover human biology topics in our podcasts Technically taking the thing. We invite you to listen.
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