De Sousa, A and Wood, B (2007) 'The hominin fossil record and the emergence of the modern human central nervous system.' In: Kaas, J.H, ed. Evolution of nervous systems: a comprehensive reference. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 291-336. ISBN 9780123925602

Official URL:


We describe and evaluate the methods used to reconstruct the central nervous system (CNS) of extinct hominin taxa. Overviews of each hominin taxon are provided, focusing on evidence related to the evolution of the CNS. Trends in the evolution of the hominin CNS are investigated using these data. Encephalization in the hominin clade may have begun as early as Australopithecus afarensis and Au. africanus, but it is only with the appearance of Homo rudolfensis and H. habilis that both absolute and relative brain size have departed from a Pan-like condition. Brain size increase and the appearance of some aspects of modern humanlike brain morphology occur in at least two hominin lineages, Paranthropus and Homo, which have absolutely and relatively larger brains than Australopithecus. However, only fossil Homo taxa show a substantial increase in brain size and a shift to a modern humanlike brain morphology.

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section
Keywords: brain; brain size; central nervous system; cranial capacity; encephalization; endocast; evolution; hominin; hominoid; human; taxanomy
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Q Science > QM Human anatomy
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2016 14:32
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 14:32
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)