Most people might have already heard about the famous Australopithecus afarensis fossil that experts named Lucy. Well, Lucy lived between 3 and 4 million years ago, and its body was somewhere between a human and an animal. The body was similar to ours, and it could probably stand straight. However, something else was completely different: the brain. According to experts, Lucy had a brain that was only about a third of the size of our brains today. So, what happened in-between that prompted this evolution in brain size?
This is what a team of scientists set out to discover in a new study which the journal Nature recently published. Experts have claimed for decades that our brains are among the most complicated organs. Moreover, some have even claimed that the brain is the most complex object in the entire universe. But taking into account our body size, out brains are a lot larger than one would expect. But why should we care so much about this aspect? Well, experts think that understanding how our brain evolved could help us also get a grasp of how the brain really works.
Why do humans have such big brains?
It’s important to know that so far, scientists have come up with three reasons why we might have evolved to have such big brains. One is the physical challenges that humans had to overcome. The second is the social needs that forced our brain to develop, and lastly, cultural reasons. This means that people who were capable of acquiring knowledge and pass it on were more likely to reproduce.
The new study argues that most likely, all these three were important in developing the brains. However, there are also downsides to this because a big brain needs more energy. Nowadays, 20% of the energy that our bodies produce goes to the brain. The new paper also suggests that the environment played a huge role in the size of the brain.
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