A tiny skull for 20 million years spilled light on the evolution of the human brain

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences completed the study of the skull of an ancient monkey of the type of Chilecebus carrascoensis, which lived about 20 million years ago. It is believed that they can be one of the oldest ancestors of a person, since 36 million years ago this species was separated from the total tree, from which the majority of monkeys on the planet then occurred. Alas, to prove or refute any theory, fossil samples are needed, and they are practically not found. This skull is the only one found in the world since 1990.

Chilecebus carrascoensis monkey was tiny, weighing less than half a kilogram, and could fit in the palms of a modern adult. But this is not of fundamental importance, even vice versa – scientists hoped to prove with the help of the remains that the size of the brain and the level of its development were not interconnected. This could help establish how the animal brain developed before reaching the complexity of the human.

In fact, the study of the brain of the monkey left more questions than answers. With the help of computed tomography, scientists received a three -dimensional model, on which the forms characteristic of a thinking creature are quite clearly traced. And he has a fairly developed visual nerve, which indicates the daily lifestyle of creation – it was guided by vision. But the problem is —Chilecebus is not balanced by the visual and olfactory nerves.

Typically, animals can see direct sensory dependence, when the lack of vision is compensated by excellent sense of smell and vice versa, but the monkey Chilecebus carrascoensis is different. Scientists have put forward a hypothesis, according to which vision, scent, hearing and other aspects of information processing developed independently, mosaically. And the brain itself served as a compensating body, which processed an uneven flow of data and helped the animal make balanced decisions, and not rely on simple instincts.

Source &#8212 Science Advances

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