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The Human Brain Continues to Downsize


John Hawks is in the middle when he drops a bombshell of describing his research. Running a list of modifications that have happened in our skull and skeleton because precisely the Stone Age, precisely the University of Wisconsin anthropologist nonchalantly adds, And it’s clear the brain has been decreasing. Shrinking? I ask. I thought it was getting larger. The entire ascent-of man thing. That was true for 2 thousand years of our development, Hawks says. But there was a reversal. He rattles off some unpleasant numbers: Over the previous 20, 000 years, the typical volume of the human anatomy has diminished from 1, 500 cubic centimeters to 1, 350 ccs, dropping a chunk the magnitude of a tennis ball.

The mind has shrunk by roughly the same proportion. Id call that downsizing in an eyeblink, he says. This occurred. If our mind keeps dwindling at the speed during the next 20, 000 years, it’ll begin to approach the size of the found in Homo erectus, a relative the lived half a thousand years ago and had a brain quantity of 1, 100 ccs. Possibly due to stated shrinkage, it can take me a while to catch on.

Are you saying we’re getting dumber? I ask. A man with a disposition and features, hawks, looks at me with an expression. It gives you a different perspective on a brain’s benefit, he says. After meeting with Hawks, I call around to other experts to see if they know roughly our diminishing brain. Geneticists who study the development of the human genome seems as surprised as I’m, that makes me wonder if I’m precisely the worlds most gullible person. But no, Hawks isn’t pulling my leg. As I soon discover, just a tight-knit circle of paleontologists seem to be within on precisely the secret, and even they look a little confused about the matter.

Their theories why the brain is shrinking are everywhere on the map. Some believe the erosion of our grey matter implies the modern humans are indeed getting dumber. Other authorities claim exactly the opposite: As the mind shrank, its wiring became much more efficient, transforming us into quicker, more agile thinkers. Still, others believe the reduction in mind size is evidence that we’ve tamed ourself, just as we domesticated sheep, pigs, along with cattle, all of that is smaller-brained compared to their wild ancestors. The more I learn, precisely the more baffled I become the news of our diminishing mind has been so underplayed, not just within precisely the media, but among scientists.