Secrets of 15-Million-Year-Old Monkey Skull Revealed

But the complexity of the brain is far greater than the researchers imagined.

This new study, published in the July 3 issue of the journal Nature Communications, strongly suggests that brain complexity in primates evolved prior to brain size expansion.

After creating the first detailed visualization of the monkey’s brain Researchers from Duke University in collaboration with investigators from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have discovered that it had a small, but complex brain. The study researchers said that Victoriapithecus’s brain volume was 36 cubic cms.

The skull – Victoriapithecus, is an ancient Old World monkey, a family of primates that includes baboons and macaques.

This ancient monkey is known, scientifically, as Victoriopithecus. It now resides at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi.

In the absence of fossil evidence, previous researchers have disagreed over whether primate brains got bigger first, and then more folded and complex, or vice versa.

The olfactory bulb – the part of the brain used to analyze smell – was three times larger than researchers expected, according to Business Standard. Usually in higher primates, the brain is more often than not larger where the olfactory bulb is smaller that leads to better vision and less keener sense of smell. But in the Victoriapithecus, both the sight and smell were equally strong, giving it extra advantages as a predator, some says. But this study is some of the hardest proof that in monkeys, the order of events was reversed. The authors also highlighted that these findings are in support of the brain size of Homo foresciensis, human ancestors that lived fifteen thousand years ago and the remains of whom were found in Indonesia in 2003, were said to have smaller brain sizes.

Lauren Gonzales, study co-author, gave a statement saying that from an evolutionary perspective, in the area of the family tree where apes and human can be found, the working theory is that brains first got to be beiger, and than they became more folded and more complex.

Because so few examples of ancient primate skulls exist, scientists have long debated whether brain complexity increased as brains got bigger or if complexity preceded increased brain size.


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