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J Hum Evol. 2013 Aug;65(2):156-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.04.007. Epub 2013 Jun 28.

Mojokerto revisited: evidence for an intermediate pattern of brain growth in Homo erectus.

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1
Department of Anthropology, Boston University, 232 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215, USA. coc@bu.edu

Abstract

Brain development in Homo erectus is a subject of great interest, and the infant calvaria from Mojokerto, Indonesia, has featured prominently in these debates. Some researchers have suggested that the pattern of brain development in H. erectus resembled that of non-human apes, while others argue for a more human-like growth pattern. In this study, we retested hypotheses regarding brain ontogeny in H. erectus using new methods (resampling), and data from additional H. erectus crania. Our results reveal that humans achieve 62% (±10%) and chimpanzees 80% (±9%) of their adult endocranial volume by 0.5-1.5 years of age. Using brain mass data, humans achieve on average 65% and chimpanzees 81% of adult size by 0.5-1.5 years. When compared with adult H. erectus crania (n = 9) from Indonesian sites greater than 1.2 million years old, Mojokerto had reached ∼70% of its adult cranial capacity. Mojokerto thus falls almost directly between the average growth in humans and chimpanzees, and well within the range of both. We therefore suggest that brain development in H. erectus cannot be dichotomized as either ape-like or human-like; it was H. erectus-like. These data indicate that H. erectus may have had a unique developmental pattern that should be considered as an important step along the continuum of brain ontogeny between apes and humans.

KEYWORDS:

Childhood; Development; Endocranial volume; Hominin; Language; Ontogeny

PMID:
23815827
DOI:
10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.04.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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