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DID THE HUMAN BRAIN GET BIGGER THROUGH EVOLUTION OR BY ACCIDENT?

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Posted by abeodbart March 31, 2010 at 8:17 am

blakemore

“According to Woody Allen, it is his second favourite organ and it absorbs more than 25% of the energy that our bodies generate. But why? For what purposes did the human brain evolve and why does it take so much of our physiological resources? Such questions have absorbed scientists for decades and have now been given an expected answer by Colin Blakemore. In a recent lecture, the Oxford neurobiologist argued that a mutation in the brain of a single human being 200,000 years ago turned intellectually able apemen into a super-intelligent species that would conquer the world. In short, Homo sapiens is a genetic accident.

Most scientists believe we achieved our intellectual status through gradual evolution. Blakemore’s intervention will therefore come as a surprise and an upset, although this will not faze the provocative 66-year-old.”

Read more at The Guardian (thanks, Tash)

COMMENTS
March 31, 2010 at 8:50 am
Peri says:

Oh! I was under the impression that evolution basically consisted of accidental genetic mutations over time. If it wasn’t accidental, that would imply that it was deliberate. So surely it was both evolutionary AND accidental?
Unless mainstream scientific theory was that ‘someone did it on purpose’, and I somehow missed it.
Confuzzled.


March 31, 2010 at 8:59 am

Darren I think that the Human Brain got bigger due to evelution as quite clearly we evolved from Apes so the brain would have to get bigger, doesnt it?


March 31, 2010 at 9:05 am
John says:

Ok I may be about to show my stupidity here but I thought evolution was a series of mutations, so evolution is always an accident? It can only have been through a mutation that the brain increased in size as evolution does not have an ‘end game’ in sight – it does not work towards a purpose and therefore doesn’t think ‘oh, the brain needs to be bigger so in the next generation of humans I will give them gradually bigger brains’. A mutation would happen, good or bad, with those better able to adapt surviving and those not dying out. So it had to be accident and evolution as they are the same?


March 31, 2010 at 9:13 am
Dan says:

“Most scientists believe we achieved our intellectual status through gradual evolution”

This suggests to me that ‘most scientists’ haven’t even given On the Origin of Species a cursory glance.

Nobody who has completed GCSE Biology in the past 15 years has an excuse for not understanding this.


March 31, 2010 at 10:55 am
JibJib says:

the universe itself is a happy accident


March 31, 2010 at 10:58 am
Wonky79 says:

Lucky that single human being 200,000 years ago wasn’t infertile


March 31, 2010 at 11:30 am
Peter says:

Intellectual status. I see upon humans a bit different most of the time. We are being trapped in this complex world of ourselves .. need to see to so much more than other living creatures just to do the same thing. That’s what humans like to call intelligent (or scientists in this area then I guess).

Instead of using body for primitive interactions we seem to use our mind for that quite a lot (well, not all, but at times .. if you observe some things around .). So not big claws .. but words with claws .. we hunt while we speak .. The jungle is more oral nowadays ..
Size might not really matter in the real jungle .. life is a bit more fast there .. speedy interactions .. sensing without interference of complex thoughts work better.

Yeah, humans ..Who’s observing us though ..(Booh!)


March 31, 2010 at 11:57 am
Michael says:

@John: Evolution is the accumulation of ‘accidental’ (random) mutations through a very non-random selection process. The mutation speculated in the article wouldn’t be any different, it would have still been random and would have still stuck around because of non-random selection. The contrast is between brain size evolving in one big accident or a series of smaller accidents and the article is either worded clumsily or the author is trying to raise controversy that doesn’t exist.


March 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm
Eric says:

I was wondering why my head was so big, now i know, thanks!


March 31, 2010 at 3:58 pm
roz says:

according to this, shouldnt woody allen’s favorite organ be bigger than his brain? (in size, that is…clearly its influence is bigger!)


March 31, 2010 at 10:10 pm
Harry says:

It is far from obvious that natural selection would favour a mutation with a bigger brain. Bigger brains need more energy, which could have been a serious disadvantage. Without the the ability to cook, to enable more energy to be extracted from food, a larger brain might not have been an evolutionary advantage.


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