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Science

Scientists Postulate Extinct Hominid With 150 IQ 568

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-could-they-invent-pizza-rolls dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Neuroscientists Gary Lynch and Richard Granger have an interesting article in Discover Magazine about the Boskops, an extinct hominid that had big eyes, child-like faces, and forebrains roughly 50% larger than modern man indicating they may have had an average intelligence of around 150, making them geniuses among Homo sapiens. The combination of a large cranium and immature face would look decidedly unusual to modern eyes, but not entirely unfamiliar. Such faces peer out from the covers of countless science fiction books and are often attached to 'alien abductors' in movies. Naturalist Loren Eiseley wrote: 'Back there in the past, ten thousand years ago. The man of the future, with the big brain, the small teeth. He lived in Africa. His brain was bigger than your brain.' The history of evolutionary studies has been dogged by the almost irresistible idea that evolution leads to greater complexity, to animals that are more advanced than their predecessor, yet the existence of the Boskops argues otherwise — that humans with big brains, and perhaps great intelligence, occupied a substantial piece of southern Africa in the not very distant past, and that they eventually gave way to smaller-brained, possibly less advanced Homo sapiens — that is, ourselves. 'With 30 percent larger brains than ours now, we can readily calculate that a population with a mean brain size of 1,750 cc would be expected to have an average IQ of 149,' write Lynch and Granger. But why did they go extinct? 'Maybe all that thoughtfulness was of no particular survival value in 10,000 BC. Lacking the external hard drive of a literate society, the Boskops were unable to exploit the vast potential locked up in their expanded cortex,' write Lynch and Granger. 'They were born just a few millennia too soon.'"
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Scientists Postulate Extinct Hominid With 150 IQ

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Increased brain size means more intelligence? That's just as silly as that other correlation we always hear about.

    Oh, and in before "IT'S... IQ OVER 9000"
    • by the_womble (580291) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @09:59AM (#30605192) Homepage Journal

      Exactly me immediate reaction. How intelligent do these guys expect an elephant to be?

      • The article states that the intelligence is estimated from the prefrontal cortex size. How big is that of an elephant?
        • by damburger (981828) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:30AM (#30605556)

          Take a peek... http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/61/Ele-brain.png [wikimedia.org]

          The brain seems larger, but seeing as the pre-frontal cortex isn't marked its relative size is difficult to guess. It is also worth bearing in mind that elephants are pretty intelligent animals.

          • by pnewhook (788591) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:58AM (#30605850)

            And Einsteins prefontal cortex was much smaller than average. However he is arguably among the smartest humans to have ever lived.

            • by aurispector (530273) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @11:25AM (#30606228)

              Einstein's brain had an unusually large number or glial cells which support neuronal function. It's the brain equivalent of cardiovascular conditioning due to aerobic exercise although it's not clear if they facilitated or resulted from complex intellectual pursuits.

              The idea that hominids got dumber is kind of charming but isn't supported by measuring cranial volume. If these early hominids with large brains are postulated to be ancestors of modern humans, it's possible the larger brains were evolutionarily pared down. An analogy might be an early creature with very large wings that was an ancestor of one with smaller, more efficient wings that enabled faster, more agile flight.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by geekoid (135745)

              I know this is unpopular, but Enistien made his discovers due to an extremely high degree of persistence. His IQ was not the main factor. Read is letters. He has some pretty tough times with some of the math and had to be guided through it.

          • by mikael (484) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @11:48AM (#30606458)

            Different areas of the brain handle different tasks - the back of the brain is where the visual center is, while the sides are where the audio recognition/speech centers are (as determined from individuals who have lost parts of their brains from surgery, accidents or diseases).

            The insular cortex [wikipedia.org] seems to have been the most recent part of the brain to have evolved.

            It isn't so much brain size alone, as the ratio of brain size to body size [wikipedia.org] that seems to be a measure of intelligence. There seems to be a minimum amount of brain volume required to manage the metabolism and immune system of body of a certain mass, so any excess about that amount has some other purpose like cognitive thinking, memory, recognition.

            These can be placed in a graph:

            Graph #1 [brynmawr.edu]
            Graph #2 [pharyngula.org]

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by halfey (1516717)

        ...big eyes, child-like faces...

        which reminds me of some anime characters

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bigdavex (155746)

        Exactly me immediate reaction. How intelligent do these guys expect an elephant to be?

        I think the question is, how intelligent do the elephants expect these guys to be?

      • "Exactly me immediate reaction. How intelligent do these guys expect an elephant to be?"

        Actually the elephants have calculated the fate of the universe and realize it's all pointless, they are secretly laugh at us all!

    • by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:13AM (#30605348) Homepage

      Yes, I'm sure they found it easy to create a standardized and unbiased IQ test for an extinct family based solely on their postulated brain size. *snicker*

    • by gerf (532474) <edtgerf@gmail.com> on Thursday December 31, 2009 @11:02AM (#30605894) Journal
      60 years ago, I built a computer that took up an entire room. Amazingly, it got replaced with a smaller, more efficient model.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Carewolf (581105)

      Increased brain size means more intelligence?

      No, not officially. First of all there is the also the variance. Even if bigger brains means smarter on average that doesn't mean the largest brain is also the smartest. Second, there is the known fact that in humans, men has larger brains than women, which means this subject is a no go zone; any serious scientist that suggest it is quickly discredited.

      OTOH. There are some evidence that suggest the neanderthal (who had 10% larger brains) was smarter than humans b

    • Just so people know, there is skepticism [johnhawks.net] over the existence of some ancient race of geniuses based on this skull.

  • by decula03 (1082847) * on Thursday December 31, 2009 @09:57AM (#30605178) Homepage
    Mmmmmmmm Brains
    • by nhytefall (1415959) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:01AM (#30605216) Journal
      BOOM!! Headshot!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lord Lemur (993283)

      Even with larger brain pans the discription of them as being more complex may not infact be a completely true statement. Did they have vocal cords that were sophisticated enough to produce real language? Did they all have something akin to autism spectrum disorder. Did the added brain capacity lead to any actual increase in computational, creative or otherwise survival enhancing benifit over Homo Sapien? Or, as maybe more likely, it was useless fatty tissue that wasn't utalized and became a burden. His

      • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday December 31, 2009 @11:16AM (#30606102) Homepage Journal

        Did they have vocal cords that were sophisticated enough to produce real language?

        House cats have vocal cords that are sophisticated enough to produce real language. Once when I was married, we visited a friend out of town and crashed on his couch, the next morning we heard a child outside the door whining for help. "Help! Help!" plain as day. I opened the door and his cat walked in and said, again plain as day, "hello". Cats, however, don't have sophisticated enough brains for complex communications.

        Even some birds can mimick human speech.

        Further, being born with a huge head is hard on female. With out C-sections, how would a woman survive?

        They would have had to have huge vaginas and usteruses, too. My last girlfriend's vagina was freakishly small, so small I could hardly have sex with her. Were it not for c-section she and her son would have both died in childbirth; there's no way a baby's head would have fit through that thing. Evolution would have done her in, just as evolution would have insured that these creatures had large enough reproductive organs to survive.

        The thought just occurred to me that perhaps the precursors to humans mated with theis species; maybe the males of that species like tight pussies, the females of our precursor species liked smart guys, and that's why they went extinct?

        • Evolution would have done her in, just as evolution would have insured that these creatures had large enough reproductive organs to survive.

          Except evolution doesn't work that way. It doesn't work to assure survival. It does what's easiest given the array of choices that arise through mutation - including selecting a dead-end.

          It's more likely that a significant jump in infant cranial size would have resulted in a significant jump in failed births unless the mutation for the large brain coincided in the same individuals who have the wider hips and reproductive organs.

          That would be like someone winning two lotteries on the same day - it's extremely unlikely. Not impossible, but way less likely than winning only one lottery.

  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @09:57AM (#30605180)
    Evolution may favour the most clever and the most adaptable, but this homonid suffered from one utterly fatal genetic flaw: it was delicious.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)
      If evolution only favored big complex beings like ourselves, all the millions of other life forms which inhabit the earth, totaling a far greater mass than us, wouldn't be around. The bacteria and viruses of today are more evolved than us, having been doing it for far longer.
      • Re:One problem ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ultranova (717540) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:31AM (#30605570)

        If evolution only favored big complex beings like ourselves, all the millions of other life forms which inhabit the earth, totaling a far greater mass than us, wouldn't be around.

        We aren't in competition with most bacteria (or viruses), so it doesn't really make sense to say that evolution favours one over other.

        The bacteria and viruses of today are more evolved than us, having been doing it for far longer.

        The bacteria and viruses of today have exactly as long evolutionary history than us.

        And the concept of "more evolved" doesn't really make sense. "Better adapted" does, as does "more complex", but "more evolved" doesn't mean anything because, all together now, "evolution doesn't have a goal, so there's no way to say which entity is more and which less evolved".

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Hognoxious (631665)

          The bacteria and viruses of today have exactly as long evolutionary history than us.

          Apparently the bacteria are quicker at learning grammar.

        • Re:One problem ... (Score:4, Informative)

          by ilguido (1704434) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @11:53AM (#30606568) Homepage

          The bacteria and viruses of today have exactly as long evolutionary history than us.

          No, they have much much much more ancestors than us. Evolution is not a matter of years, but of generations.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, their flaw was probably being arrogant and condescending.

      A good number of Slashdotters should take heed. You days are numbered!

  • by rotide (1015173) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:01AM (#30605214)
    Does a bigger brain necessarily mean they had a higher IQ? Does it really work like that? I get there could be the _potential_ for a higher IQ, but just because someone has more gray matter doesn't necessarily mean they are smarter.
    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      While more gray matter isn't a direct cause of more brain power, we do know a little about how different parts of the brain work and which are more useful for what. This creature has a lot more volume in the upper brain area, where more conscious thoughts and memories take place. If it were just a bigger head overall, sure it wouldn't point to something inherently 'smarter'. However, with more of the 'right stuff' in it's head it is highly likely that it was smarter than comparable creatures with smaller

    • The two are loosely correlated. A much more important indicator than size is the complexity of the brain's internal structure. Density of neurons, number of interconnections, etc. To put a tech spin on it, a larger CPU might mean more processing power, but if it has fewer transistors per square inch, the computing power won't be any higher. These IQ comparisons always hold the internal structure to be constant.

      By comparison, Homo neanderthalensis had a larger brain than Homo sapiens, on average. But while t

    • by bcrowell (177657) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:48PM (#30607490) Homepage

      Yep, the article is total nonsense.

      If you compare across species, there is some correlation between brain size and intelligence, but not much. For instance, a whale's brain is a lot bigger than a human's, but there's no evidence that whales are all that much smarter than humans. Hamsters' brains are a lot smaller than horses', but they aren't dramatically dumber. The correlation gets somewhat stronger if you rate each species in terms of the ratio of brain size to body size. But in any case, the correlation is fairly weak, and is only a cross-species correlation. If you compare humans, there is no correlation between brain size and intelligence. Women have smaller heads than men on the average, but they're not less intelligent. The scientific consensus is that Boskop is not a separate species from H. Sapiens. Even if it was, the cross-species correlation is extremely loose, so you can't infer anything about one specific species. By the way, neanderthals also had bigger brains than humans, but the evidence is that they weren't any more intelligent. For example, there are areas where neanderthals and humans lived side by side for thousands of years, using identical types of tools. If the neanderthals were that much smarter than the humans, you'd think they'd have had fancier tools. Later on, humans started using more sophisticated tools (e.g., fish hooks and needles carved from bone), but IIRC the big-brained neanderthals never did.

      Human intelligence depends a lot on specific genes, such as FOXP2. These genes have dramatic effects on intellectual ability, e.g., verbal ability. Families with abnormal FOXP2 have problems with language, but their brains are normal in size, and you wouldn't be able to tell them from normal humans based on their skulls. When you splice FOXP2 into mice, the baby mice vocalize differently than normal mice. But again, you wouldn't be able to tell the mice were abnormal based on their skulls. FOXP2 has been sequenced from DNA from Neanderthal fossils at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and the result is that neanderthals have the same FOXP2 as modern humans. Note that they had to use molecular biology to find this out, though; you can't detect it by any amount of staring at the fossilized skulls.

  • by modmans2ndcoming (929661) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:01AM (#30605218)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boskop_Man [wikipedia.org]

    The Discover article is a bunch of garbage. the idea that this was some sort of homonid species has been debuniked over 50 years ago.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Even clearer than the WP article is the link it provides: http://johnhawks.net/weblog/reviews/brain/paleo/lynch-granger-big-brain-boskops-2008.html

      • by ShatteredArm (1123533) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:05PM (#30606792)
        Some points from that article:

        First, if you do a simple Google Scholar search for "Boskop", you will discover that this has not been a going topic in human evolution for nearly fifty years. Most intellectual effort on the topic of "Boskopoids" happened between 1915 and 1930. I want to emphasize how easy it is to discover these things by a simple Google search. This is obscure knowledge, but for a good reason -- it's obsolete and has been for fifty years!

        This selection was initially done almost without any regard for archaeological or cultural associations -- any old, large skull was a "Boskop". Later, when a more systematic inventory of archaeological associations was entered into evidence, it became clear that the "Boskop race" was entirely a figment of anthropologists' imaginations. Instead, the MSA-to-LSA population of South Africa had a varied array of features, within the last 20,000 years trending toward those present in historic southern African peoples. Singer ends his paper thusly:

        It is now obvious that what was justifiable speculation (because of paucity of data) in 1923, and was apparent as speculation in 1947, is inexcusable to maintain in 1958.

        That is pretty much where matters have stood ever since. "Boskopoid" is used only in this historical sense; it is has not been an active unit of analysis since the 1950's. By 1963, Brothwell could claim that Boskop itself was nothing more than a large skull of Khoisan type, leaving the concept of a "Boskop race" far behind.

        Today, skeletal remains from South African LSA are generally believed to be ancestral to historic peoples in the region, including the Khoikhoi and San. The ancient people did not mysteriously disappear: they are still with us! The artistic legacy of the ancient peoples, clearly evidenced in rock art, is impressive but no more so than that of the European Upper Paleolithic or that of indigenous Australians.

        I hate to think that the theme of a 2008 book was pulled straight from a 1958 essay, but I don't know where else they would have gotten the idea. No anthropologists have written much about the so-called "Boskopoids" since 1958. There is no such thing as an "IQ estimate" for a fossil human; that's entirely nonsensical.

        Perhaps most important:

        Both Lynch and Granger are experts in neuroscience, with a long list of publications on memory, cortical organization, and chemical regulation of brain activity. Neither of them is an anthropologist or archaeologist.

        It would seem John Hawks has thoroughly debunked the idea.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:03AM (#30605242) Journal
    If I recall my Carl Sagan reading, Broca's Region is very important to our intellectual prowess among the animal kingdom. But from reading this summary it would seem that a blue whale would be the most intelligent thing ever. But it's not and that's because things like the proteins that make up our neurons, the spacing of the synapses, the quality of the electric shielding (white matter), etc are also important to defining our brain functions above that of an animal with comparable brain size.

    I'm in now way a biologist but it is odd to me that they would suggest this metric for intelligence unless they can also prove that they are recent enough in our history that the above factors I mentioned have to be close or match our own that we know a lot about. I don't think that's a safe speculation though.

    I would also like to point out the nature versus nurture paradigm in how a brain develops which will show you that in our idea of what an IQ test is, parental nurturing can sometimes have just as large if not more important result than our genetic make up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      You're right - size isn't everything (there are plenty of examples of less intelligent, larger brained animals).

      Broca's and Wernicke's areas are parts of the brain for constructing and understanding language, respectively. This part of the brain is a unique part of the homo sapiens, and is why our brains our asymmetric (broca's and wernicke's is almost always on the left side of your brain). It is believed that the crucial genetic mutation that allowed for this asymmetry, also allowed for us to suffer fro

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:10AM (#30605298) Homepage

    The smarter people will invariably be the minority overridden by the less smart masses for a variety of reasons in a variety of ways. One only has to look at the dark ages to see that in action. And every time we see politics manipulate science we see more of the same.

    If 10,000 years ago a bunch of rock throwers witnessed the "magic" of these smarter people, they too might have believed they were evil or a threat to be destroyed.

    With all that said, the premise of the discussion is completely guess-work. Big brain doesn't mean big mind.

    • by 4D6963 (933028) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @11:22AM (#30606196)

      The smarter people will invariably be the minority overridden by the less smart masses for a variety of reasons in a variety of ways.

      Persecution complex much? Just about everything you just whined about is utter bullshit. The smart have always ruled. The smart generals have triumphed from the less gifted leaders, helped by the inventions of the smart engineers, enabled by the discoveries of the smart scientists. Don't let your historical shortsightedness and your obsession with modern day American conservatives or even your movie-watching make you think otherwise.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by erroneus (253617)

        Oh really? The census reports indicate some pretty disturbing trends. Educated people are having fewer, if any children, while less and uneducated people are increasing in numbers. This isn't fantasy. Things are changing. Numbers have always overruled superior tech and intelligence. When you speak of smart general versus less smart general, you are talking about equal factors competing against each other on the basis of quality. One smart soldier with a machine gun cannot beat 1000 stick wielding pri

  • by ErikZ (55491) * on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:10AM (#30605306)

    I had read that around the time Man domesticated dogs, the size of their brains changed.

    The theory being that since we always had dogs with us, we didn't need large parts of the brain dedicated to smell anymore.

  • With 30 percent larger brains than ours now, we can readily calculate that a population with a mean brain size of 1,750 cc would be expected to have an average IQ of 149

    That is wrong on so many different levels.

  • by jimbobborg (128330) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:12AM (#30605320)

    The skull was found in the early 1900s. There's been speculation about them for years. And NOW Discovery is writing about them? I think the better story to link to is about the giant snake they just found in a mine in South America. 40+ feet long, weighing in at over a ton, lived about 60 Million years ago, indicating that the temperature was significantly higher than it is now in the Equatorial Rain Forest.

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:13AM (#30605332)

    humans with big brains... they eventually gave way to smaller-brained, possibly less advanced Homo sapiens

    A triumph of wedgies and swirlies paving the way for the modern day high school.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:13AM (#30605342) Journal

    Homo Sapiens' brains are as large as they can get without being a significant disadvantage. The large cranial size causes problems in birth, reducing the number of individuals that survive the process and reduces the reproduction rate. A hominid with a larger brain size but not major other physiological changes would reproduce even more slowly and would be easy to kill off as a species, even if the adults males were harder to kill individually (the adult females would die in childbirth a lot more frequently than their smaller-skulled equivalents).

    If, on the other hand, the rest of his skeleton was proportionally larger, then this would not have been a problem. He would have been stronger, but possibly less able agile, and would have required more food. In times of relative food shortage, the smaller-skeletoned variant would have had an evolutionary advantage. He would be able to keep his muscle mass sufficient to move around quickly on a much more limited diet.

    There is quite a bit of evidence that skull sizes have been shrinking over the last few thousand years, but there's no evidence that this correlates with reduced mental ability. Humans are far from having the largest brains of any modern mammals (whales win that one by a long way). You can't jump straight from brain size to IQ, you need to also look at how the brain is divided. Dogs, for example, have a huge amount of their brain devoted to controlling their noses. Dolphins have about as much brain tissue just devoted to turning sonar returns into a coherent picture of their environment as humans have in total. It's possible that a hominid with a 50% larger brain had an average IQ of 150, but it's also possible that it had an average IQ of 200 or of 50. It's impossible to tell just from the skull.

  • by martin (1336) <maxsec@@@gmail...com> on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:14AM (#30605352) Journal

    is that those who adapt quickest to a changing environment survive (not the biggest, quickest or strongest). maybe thats what happened the Boskops couldn't adapt.

  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:15AM (#30605370)
    I'll just quote an actual anthropologist [johnhawks.net] about this "discovery".

    in fact, what happened is that a small set of large crania were taken from a much larger sample of varied crania, and given the name, "Boskopoid." This selection was initially done almost without any regard for archaeological or cultural associations -- any old, large skull was a "Boskop". Later, when a more systematic inventory of archaeological associations was entered into evidence, it became clear that the "Boskop race" was entirely a figment of anthropologists' imaginations. Instead, the MSA-to-LSA population of South Africa had a varied array of features, within the last 20,000 years trending toward those present in historic southern African peoples. Singer ends his paper thusly:

    It is now obvious that what was justifiable speculation (because of paucity of data) in 1923, and was apparent as speculation in 1947, is inexcusable to maintain in 1958.

    That is pretty much where matters have stood ever since. "Boskopoid" is used only in this historical sense; it is has not been an active unit of analysis since the 1950's. By 1963, Brothwell could claim that Boskop itself was nothing more than a large skull of Khoisan type, leaving the concept of a "Boskop race" far behind.

    So there you have it. There wasn't an extinct hominid with an IQ of 150, it was just the fallacy of selection bias exhibited by some anthropologists more than 70 years ago.

  • http://www.scientificblogging.com/mark_changizi/why_doesn%E2%80%99t_size_matter%E2%80%A6_brain [scientificblogging.com] This has been proven over and over that size doesn't relate to smarts. An elephant's brain is just over 3 times larger than ours and yet I didn't see any elephants walk on the moon or develop great civilizations.
  • Oh my goodness, what a surprise... The linked article on SA was one for a question that I had submitted 10 years ago to "Ask the Experts"!!

  • by mbone (558574) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:19AM (#30605432)

    Assume the hypothesis is true.

    Those big brains would not have evolved without an evolutionary advantage of some sort, lack of literary hard drives or no. Now, their relative fitness against homo sapiens is another matter - that could depend on things like population size, climate change, and the accidents of history. ("The race is not always to the swift" and all that.)

    I bet that, if this is true, someone starts looking for these genes in the current human population. They should be able to get some DNA from those 10,000 year old bones to compare against.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jason Levine (196982)

      And today's evolutionary advantage is tomorrow's evolutionary disadvantage. As another poster said, bigger brains need bigger skulls which increases the odds that the mother will die during childbirth. And if the entire body is bigger, you need more food to feed said bigger body. So a hypothetical super-intelligent cousin of Homo Sapiens* could have evolved and still have gone extinct. Perhaps we're the Goldilocks of Hominids. Some were too dumb, some were too smart, we're just right.... for now (cue m

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by osu-neko (2604)

      Those big brains would not have evolved without an evolutionary advantage of some sort...

      You're right, what you posted is "typical evolutionary muddle". It's a common misconception that traits evolve because they pose some sort of advantage. In fact, all traits, both advantageous and disadvantageous, evolve at random. Traits don't necessarily persist because they're advantageous, either. They do often disappear when a species is placed under stress if they are maladaptive, but only if they aren't paired with some other more adaptive trait (often completely randomly), and this is only if the

  • by EvilBudMan (588716) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:21AM (#30605444) Journal

    It was probably just a Sleestack. They failed because they only used logic and couldn't talk plain.

  • Evolution says the species that adapt to change easier than others will survive. Sometimes it is being bigger or being smarter that gives a species an advantage over another. But not necessarily one or the other. A larger brain may mean that a species has the potential to be smarter but it comes with a cost. A larger brain also means more energy requirements. It also may mean a longer time to develop (longer childhood).

    If the environment changes and food becomes scarce, a larger brain might be a disad

  • The dolphins. They were assumed to be similar IQ to man, until they figured out that they have 6x the glial cells that man does. So what it comes down to is that size != IQ.
  • Bang Theory (Score:3, Funny)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:28AM (#30605514) Homepage Journal
    Can you imagine a civilization with only Sheldon Coopers? Is the kind of things that ends with a big bang.
  • by david.emery (127135) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:29AM (#30605542)

    "My kid beat up your honors student"

    dave (who was usually on the receiving side of such efforts...)

  • by gpronger (1142181) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @11:02AM (#30605896) Journal
    Reading the article and then jumping over and making use of "Google Scholar" it seems that the Boskops are not seen as a separate species or genus, but more of a grouping of larger skulls from the extant population of the time. John Hawks, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison has a fairly in-depth blog on the subject (http://johnhawks.net/weblog/reviews/brain/paleo/lynch-granger-big-brain-boskops-2008.html).

    The other part of the picture, is fairly clear, and that is survival. As much as we seem to know of the "Boskops" they may have been an offshoot of the population of the time (but within the the larger envelope of homo sapien sapien). These larger skulled individuals, regardless if they were a population to themselves, faded. One of the points mentioned regarding brain size, is that they are "expensive" in the sense of the food and nutritional requirements. In considering their situation at that point in geologic time, they may have simply been a Formula 1 car showing up at the Baha 1000. Intelligence, like horsepower is but one aspect of survival (or winning) and whether their larger brain simply required too much "fuel" to finish, or that they were simply too specialized to be reflected in modern man, is open to speculation.

    At some point in time we may collect enough comparative (fossil) evidence to look at DNA comparisons, between the "Boskops" and their contemporaries and then compare this to "modern" man and be able to fit these individuals into the larger evolutionary picture.
  • by tverbeek (457094) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @11:59AM (#30606654) Homepage

    I'm not extinct!

    I was just resting!

  • by dirkdodgers (1642627) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:38PM (#30607326)

    Their work here has already been discredited in academic circles. Stop misinforming the public by giving it traction in the popular press. Had these neuroscientists had the sense to review their hypotheses with current scientists in anthropology and evolutionary biology they would have saved themselves a great deal of embarrassment.

    There is no science occurring here. There is no new discovery here. This is simply two scientists in a completely unrelated field (neuroscience), looking at very old, discredited data, and pulling a headline grabbing book and promotional magazine article out of their asses. However well meaning they were, they failed to do their footwork here, and the result is embarrassing. I guess we should ask snopes to start writing an article on this now before this nonsense spreads.

  • by pablo_max (626328) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @02:19PM (#30608660)

    From what I have seen, and I have lived in several states, the less educated and clever folks are, the more kids they tend to produce.
    Conversely, the majority of my well educated and intelligent friends tend to have 1 child at most.

    It would seem that a less advanced race of morons (i.e. Humans) could very quickly run these Uber-smarties to extinction just by our numbers alone.

  • by NuShrike (561140) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @04:21PM (#30609930)

    If dating the water erosion on the Sphinx holds any water, then it would date back to 10,000 B.C. when that area was grasslands and experience significant water fall. If the Sphinx was built back then, it would align with the era of the last of the "Boskop Man" placing them in the area of the Nile.

    Incidentally, the Egyptian pharaohs were usually depicted having large skulls, and married siblings (to preserve the bloodlines?). Maybe there's some correlation between the knowledge to build the Pyramids and these Boskop Men.

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