Chimpanzee brains similar to human ancestors’


This video says about itself:

How different are human and chimpanzee brain stem cells?

27 January 2017

We share between 94 and 99% of our DNA with our chimpanzee cousins, but how do our brains compare? Watch this video by Felipe Mora-Bermúdez to find out what he has learned from studying brain stem cells from humans and chimps.

You can read his full publication on this work in the journal eLife here.

Felipe is a postdoc in the lab of Wieland Huttner at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany.

By Bruce Bower, 3:00pm, March 26, 2018:

Modern chimp brains share similarities with ancient hominids

Scans suggest certain folding patterns don’t mark humanlike neural advances after all

Groove patterns on the surface of modern chimpanzee brains throw a monkey wrench into proposals that some ancient southern African hominids evolved humanlike brain characteristics, a new study suggests.

MRIs of eight living chimps reveal substantial variability in the shape and location of certain features on the brain surface. Some of these brains showed surface creases similar to ones that were thought to have signaled a turn toward humanlike brain organization in ancient hominids hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years ago. Paleoanthropologist Dean Falk of Florida State University in Tallahassee and colleagues report their findings online March 13 in Brain, Behavior and Evolution.

The study casts doubt on a 2014 paper by Falk that was based on casts of the inside of fossil braincases, called endocasts, which preserve impressions of these surface features. At the time, Falk argued that four endocasts from southern African hominids — three Australopithecus africanus and one Australopithecus sediba — showed folding patterns that suggested that brain reorganization was underway as early as 3 million years ago in a frontal area involved in human speech production.

But MRIs of three of the chimp brains reveal comparable creases, the researchers found. Two other chimps display other frontal tissue furrows that Falk had also previously described as distinctly humanlike.

“I was really wrong about the handful of Australopithecus endocasts”, Falk says. The endocasts were made from A. africanus and A. sediba fossils dating to between roughly 2 million to 3 million years ago (SN: 8/10/13, p. 26).

And in one chimp, the new study finds, a pair of grooves correspond with those on a Homo naledi endocast that were described in 2017 as humanlike (SN Online: 4/25/17). H. naledi, a small-brained species with many humanlike skeletal features, inhabited southern Africa close to 300,000 years ago (SN: 6/10/17, p. 6).

Still, researchers have spent decades debating the implications of partially preserved brain surface features on hominid endocasts. And the new findings based on MRIs are also controversial.

Nothing in the new chimp study undermines the original finding of humanlike folds in H. naledi’s frontal brain, says biological anthropologist Shawn Hurst of Indiana University Bloomington. The frontal brain grooves on a H. naledi endocast, like those in modern humans, lie farther back than the grooves seen in the chimp MRI scan, Hurst contends. Expanded tissue folds around those grooves also follow a distinctly humanlike pattern not observed [in] chimps, he argues. Those features indicate H. naledi had a humanlike capacity for pride and other complex social emotions and possibly verbal communication of some type, Hurst says. What’s more, the new study fails to consider that the A. sediba endocast shows furrows and folding patterns found in humans but not chimps, he says.

Endocast researchers need to study the range of brain surface characteristics in a larger sample of living chimps and other apes to make more accurate comparisons, Falk says. Until now, line drawings published in 1950 of only five chimp brain hemispheres, she notes, have provided the most accurate and comprehensive look at furrow patterns on chimps’ brains.

How specific folds and creases on the brain’s surface relate to inner structures, such as those involved in speech and language, also remains poorly understood, Falk says.

Can chimpanzee vocalizations reveal the origins of human language? While closely related to humans, researchers discover that chimpanzees’ vocalizations resemble human language less than you’d expect: here.

Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) appear to keep tidier sleeping arrangements than humans do. That’s one finding of a recent study that evaluated the microbes and arthropods found in the treetop beds that chimpanzees make each night: here.

An international team of scientists has studied the physiological parameters of savanna and rainforest chimpanzees and compared their water and energy budgets as well as their stress levels. They found that the stress of maintaining their body temperature is a tremendous burden on chimpanzees living in the savanna: here.

Few things can delight an adult more easily than the uninhibited, effervescent laughter of a baby. Yet baby laughter, a new study shows, differs from adult laughter in a key way: Babies laugh as they both exhale and inhale, in a manner that is remarkably similar to nonhuman primates: here.

Scientists have discovered an earlier origin to the human language pathway in the brain, pushing back its evolutionary origin by at least 20 million years. Previously, a precursor of the language pathway was thought by many scientists to have emerged more recently, about 5 million years ago, with a common ancestor of both apes and humans: here.

12 thoughts on “Chimpanzee brains similar to human ancestors’

    • No, as until recently scientists thought that millions of years ago already, human ancestors’ brains had diverged from chimpanzees’ ancestors’. The new research says that the traits in human ancestors’ brains, supposedly showing that divergence, are present in modern chimpanzees as well.

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