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SCI/TECH: Human Brains Are Getting Larger, More Complex

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posted on Sep, 9 2005 @ 08:22 AM
In a step toward proving that the human race is still evolving, two geneticists out of the University of Chicago have discovered that two genes that govern the size and complexity of the brain, Microcephalin and ASPM, found groups of variants, known as haplogroups, that emerged about 37,000 years ago and 5,800 years ago. The timing of the emergence of these groups comes well after evolution of modern man which occurred approximately 200,000 years ago.
These haplogroups also demonstrate that evolution does not need to take millions of years but can take place in a relatively short period of time. These geneticists also state that if the human race survives the next million years, there will be significant structural differences between the brains of humans today and those of humans in our future.
Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Human brains are still evolving, increasing in both size and complexity, University of Chicago geneticists said in two papers published in the journal Science.

Scientists studying two genes that regulate brain size, Microcephalin and ASPM, found groups of variants, known as haplogroups, that emerged about 37,000 years ago and 5,800 years ago, according to the papers published yesterday in Science. Anatomically modern humans evolved about 200,000 years ago.

``Our studies indicate that the trend that is the defining characteristic of human evolution -- the growth of brain size and complexity -- is likely still going on,'' Bruce Lahn, lead researcher for both papers, said in an accompanying statement. ``If our species survives for another million years or so, I would imagine that the brain by then would show significant structural differences from the human brain of today.''

For both genes, the ``new'' class of variants was called haplogroup D. Versions of the Microcephalin variant are found in about 70 percent of humans, and ASPM's haplogroup D is present in about 30 percent of today's people, according to the papers. ASPM stands for Abnormal, Spindle-like Microcephaly Associated. Mutations of either gene can cause reduced brain size.

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This is an interesting find and demonstrates that the human race is still evolving and developing. One of the "fact" that I was taught in school way back in the day, evolution took millions of years in human beings. This was due to the length of our lifespan.
Evolution could be demonstrated in such creatures as fruit flies mainly due to their exteremely short lifespan.
It does bring two question to mind though, will our future progeny even consider us to be their true ancestors or just off shoots such has been discussed about "Lucy". This I ask since their will be very little in similarity between our species.

The second question and one that I think will cause us the most problems today, the timing of the emergence of the new haplogroups occuring around 37,000 to 5,800 years ago, might give more "credence" to the young earth believers as this timing will coincide with with their belief that "Man" was created around 6,000 years ago.

posted on Sep, 10 2005 @ 07:13 AM
Amazing.....and the species is getting stupider and stupider at the same time....must be something in the water.

posted on Sep, 10 2005 @ 09:50 AM

"An important differential feature of hominid brains relative to those of chimps and gorillas is morphological asymmetry. Hominid-specific brain asymmetry has been linked to the unique capacity for language that human beings possess.."

"There are several important characteristics of schizophrenia that have led Professor Crow to an intriguing hypothesis.." "Schizophrenia occurs across populations with the same features and at the same frequency, suggesting it is intrinsic to humanity.."

Link to full hypothesis:

Would an evolutionary increase in the brain's complexity lead to a proportional increase in the ratio and severity of 'mental disorders'?

The reason I pose this question, is that it well-known that as a process..whether biological/mechanical/etc..increases in complexity, so the margin for malfunctions and errors also increases exponetially. It has been suggested that at the present moment, an average of 1-in-4 of the population suffers from a mental disorder of some form, which could be likened to a 'software error or malfunction'.

Similarily, just as we are nearing the technological limit in terms of speed and capacity for the silicon-based micro-processor, could we see at some point in the future, a neurological 'evolutionary ceiling'?

[edit on 10-9-2005 by timski]

posted on Sep, 10 2005 @ 11:22 AM

Originally posted by grover
Amazing.....and the species is getting stupider and stupider at the same time....must be something in the water.

It is almost like this is true....we 'lose' skills that kept us alive for ages, while we incorporate more and more techno type information.....some of it seemingly usless, maybe 'brain cell hogging drivel' computer games.

Could it be that we as a whole would eventually benefit ? Or would the growth be a 'back up' system to compensate for those mental disorders/malfunctions that timski mentions?

(My brain seems to be getting larger, but I think it's just

posted on Sep, 10 2005 @ 01:55 PM
It is a biological fact that in generalists the more life challenges a species faces, the smarter it becomes...we as a species came of age during the last ice age and immediately after it, and as a generalist species that had long since moved out of its home range of Africa, we faced alot of challenges. Now modern in civilization we have removed the vast majority of those challenges but our biology is still playing catch up from what it went through thousands of years ago. Without those challenges we become comfortable and complacent and consequently less bright. I would hazzard to guess that as the challenges of the next few centuries increase with the collapse of the environment and global warming, instead of becoming smarter to adapt, we will still be playing catch up with the great dumb down.

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