Remarkably, the increase in the number of head and neck muscles — and thus of musculoskeletal structures — in human evolution led to a decrease in network density and complexity in humans. Through posts, discussion, image and video content, the community space can be used by members to communicate with each other, and with editors, about topics ranging from the fundamental science itself through to policy, society and the day to day life of the research community.
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New sketch released in investigation of severed head found in trash bag at Lake Houston
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No comments yet. But why our heads and those of our ice age cousins looked different remained a mystery. Now, researchers have found an ingenious way to identify genes that help explain the contrast.
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By analyzing traces of Neanderthal DNA that linger in Europeans from their ancestors' trysts, researchers have identified two Neanderthal gene variants linked to slightly less globular head shape in living people, the team reports this week in Current Biology. The genes also influence brain organization, offering a clue to how evolution acting on the brain might have reshaped the skull.
Importance of physical properties of the human head on head-neck injury metrics.
This "very important study" pinpoints genes that have a "direct effect on brain shape and, presumably, brain function in humans today," says paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London, who was not a part of the work. Cradle a newborn and you'll see that infants start life with elongated skulls, somewhat like Neanderthals. It's only when the modern human brain nearly doubles in size in the first year of life that the skull becomes globular, says paleoanthropologist Philipp Gunz of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.
He and his colleagues analyzed computerized tomography scans of modern human and Neanderthal skulls to develop a "globularity index" of human brains. To explore the underlying differences in brain tissue, they applied that index to MRI scans from people of European ancestry whose DNA had been genotyped.
The team identified two Neanderthal DNA fragments that were correlated with slightly less globular heads. These DNA fragments affect the expression of two genes: UBR4 , which regulates the development of neurons, and PHLPP1 , which affects the development of myelin sheaths that insulate axons, or projections of neurons.
How did the human head and neck evolve? | Nature Research Ecology & Evolution Community
Sign In. Access provided by: anon Sign Out. The antenna is matched with an inhomogeneous human head allowing higher signal penetration so as to obtain more meaningful data reflected from inside the brain.
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