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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

The nineteenth century witnessed the flowering of the Darwinian concept of evolution as the process of natural change in the bio-physical world. But what do you mean by “evolution’: the natural unfolding of organisms down through the generations, from earlier forms, widely different (a period of growth and change)? Or by “evolution” we mean a natural maturation process, the fulfillment of an organism’s potential to become a new creature. And in any case does evolution signify “progress”?

The path of evolution is the growth of an organism from the microscopical unit cell into a large complicated and diversified organism through a period of time. The difference between the parent cell and its multi-numerous offspring is often very great in design and function, and certainly the resultant organism is of infinitely greater dimensions and diversity than its somewhat undistinguishing originator. When examined, a cell as such, could hardly be able to indicate to us just what sort of an organism if has intentions of becoming.


What is interesting about this picture is the way it illustrates evolution as a developmental from common ancestors. By changing the developmental biology in early species, nature has produced the modern bird (an entirely new creature) and one that, with approximately 10,000 species, is today the most successful group of land vertebrates on the planet.

It would be inherently true, however, that no progress in their features has been achieved. It has only been that the potential bird which was within the Anchisaurus was unfurled into which we know as the modern bird now. What I am saying is this is a not a progressional difference but a changed manifestation. I don’t intend to insinuate that I understand these fields to any extent, but I identify a natural maturation process. To equate therefore evolution as progress would this be illusionary.

Evolution is beyond reasonable doubt. But Darwin never actually used the word “evolution” in the Origin. The last word of the text is “evolved”, and Darwin unambiguously uses his own phrase “descent with modification” which can also be interpreted as “growth” or “maturation.”

The entire universal phenomenon is but a continuous flow of particles with an equal balance between positive and negative charges. And such a system does in no way allow for a progressive alteration of its factors. We, in our folk-ways, state this by saying that each period breeds the seeds for the next period. The seeds are in actuality the bridge which connects the two halves of the balance system.

A period of generative age has been continuing in our universe since recorded historical time and led us to the conclusion that it always would be thusly. But the logic intervenes and says that the seeds of the degenerative period are being now fostered so that the balance of forces in the world will be restored. The cell only matures into a particular organism, which, in generalized terms, we know to be as the parent organism.

Why does the cell find it necessary to mature and will mature into only one prototype? Why should not each germ-cell develop into an organism of completely unique species according to its own inclinations? What connection exists between the original cell and the ultimate conglomeration of cells that causes the one to mature along a definite path to the other?

The answer lies in the concept of potentiality. The minute single germ-cell has a potential to develop into a given organism and therefore cannot deviate from becoming that organism. Thus the cell in its process of maturation to organism is not progressing at all. It is only revealing its potential into an actual. What has possibility to be achieved is achieved.

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There has been much work done in evolutionary biology since Darwin. Darwin did not even get to know about DNA. Some of the greatest, and easiest to understand proofs of evolution come from DNA. It is great that Darwin used the word "evolve" in the last, magnificent sentence of The Origin of The Species, and he does imply progression and speaks of the "higher animals":


Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.


The late Stephen Jay Gould discussed at length the concept of "progression" in evolution and why it is misleading to use that terminology, although, through time, the most complex organisms tended to appear later:


“We talk about the ‘march from monad to man’ (old-style language again) as though evolution followed continuous pathways to progress along unbroken lineages. Nothing could be further from reality. I do not deny that, through time, the most ‘advanced’ organism has tended to increase in complexity. But the sequence [allocated in most texts] from jellyfish to trilobite to nautiloid to armored fish to dinosaur to monkey to human is no lineage at all, but a chronological set of termini on unrelated evolutionary trunks. Moreover life shows no trend to complexity in the usual sense — only an asymmetrical expansion of diversity around a starting point constrained to be simple.”

Eight Little Piggies: Reflections in Natural History, New York: W. W. Norton, 1993, p. 322.



What is "complexity" and what is "progress"? Tomatoes and rice have more genes than us humans.Should we feel less than a tomato for that reason?

The "potential" you talk about, Claudia, is basically the "program" that is started after fertilization: it is dictated by DNA but also by interactions with the environment. The field that studies this is developmental biology, a fascinating field of which we know a bit more now than we did a few decades ago, but where we still have a lot of work to do. For those of you who like to read up on this, check out the homeobox genes and the fascinating mutations that in Drosophila, allowed fly geneticists to discover how body patterns are determined: antennapedia, ultrabithorax, hedgehog, eyeless, etc.

Evo-devo, short for evolutionary developmental biology, studies the ancestral relationship between organisms by comparing their specific developmental biology. Nova has this very good article on evo-devo.

Abbreviated definition of evolution: descent with modification, from a common ancestor.

I'm not sure I understand exactly what you are asking, are you asking if evolution led to the division of left and right hemispheres in our brains, in order to accommodate language? If this is what you're asking, the answer is no. Mammal brains have been divided in hemispheres way before humans, way before primates, etc. Interestingly, though the left hemisphere has a predisposition to be the site for language, it is not always the case:


About 9 out of 10 adults are right-handed. This proportion seems to have remained stable over many thousands of years and in all cultures in which it has been studied (see sidebar).

Now, what about language—what is its “dominant” hemisphere? And is there any correlation between handedness and language lateralization? Considering how easily we can determine whether someone is right-handed or left-handed, if there were such a correlation, it might prove very useful for research. And indeed, this correlation does exist, but it is not perfect. In the vast majority of right-handed people, language abilities are localized in the left hemisphere. But contrary to what you might expect, the opposite is not true among left-handed people, for whom the picture is less clear. Many “lefties” show a specialization for language in the left hemisphere, but some show one in the right, while for still others, both hemispheres contribute just about equally to language.

Though handedness does influence the brain hemisphere that people use to speak, the left hemisphere does seem to have a natural predisposition for language, and this predisposition is reflected anatomically.

Autism cannot be a complete failure of the language machinery because many autistic people are verbal and can use language just like neurotypicals, in other words, they can use grammar, syntax, etc., even though some are slower in acquiring language. Some neuroscientists think that it is the social difficulties stemming from the inability to imagine or "read" what the other person is thinking that make conversations so difficult for autistic people. Maybe autism is primarily a dysfunction of the "social module" in the brain and not the "language module".

Here is an interesting NPR article on this subject: Autism Reveals Social Roots of Language.

And just one little correction: Homo sapiens did not become Human Beings. Homo sapiens ARE human beings. Homo sapiens is the name of the human species.

A new finding about our even earlier ancestor 

Fossil discovery: More evidence for Asia, not Africa, as the source of earliest anthropoid primates

June 5, 2012

ScienceDaily (June 4, 2012) — An international team of researchers has announced the discovery of Afrasia djijidae, a new fossil primate from Myanmar that illuminates a critical step in the evolution of early anthropoids -- the group that includes humans, apes, and monkeys. The 37-million-year-old Afrasia closely resembles another early anthropoid, Afrotarsius libycus, recently discovered at a site of similar age in the Sahara Desert of Libya. The close similarity between Afrasia and Afrotarsius indicates that early anthropoids colonized Africa only shortly before the time when these animals lived. The colonization of Africa by early anthropoids was a pivotal step in primate and human evolution, because it set the stage for the later evolution of more advanced apes and humans there.

The scientific paper describing the discovery appears June 4 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For decades, scientists thought that anthropoid evolution was rooted in Africa. However, more recent fossil discoveries in China, Myanmar, and other Asian countries have rapidly altered scientific opinion about where this group of distant human ancestors first evolved. Afrasia is the latest in a series of fossil discoveries that are overturning the concept of Africa as the starting point for anthropoid primate evolution.

"Not only does Afrasia help seal the case that anthropoids first evolved in Asia, it also tells us when our anthropoid ancestors first made their way to Africa, where they continued to evolve into apes and humans," says Chris Beard, Carnegie Museum of Natural History paleontologist and member of the discovery team that also included researchers from Myanmar, Thailand, and France. Beard is renowned for his extensive work on primate evolution and anthropoid origins. "Afrasia is a game-changer because for the first time it signals when our distant ancestors initially colonized Africa. If this ancient migration had never taken place, we wouldn't be here talking about it."

Timing is everything

Paleontologists have been divided over exactly how and when early Asian anthropoids made their way from Asia to Africa. The trip could not have been easy, because a more extensive version of the modern Mediterranean Sea called the Tethys Sea separated Africa from Eurasia at that time. While the discovery of Afrasia does not solve the exact route early anthropoids followed in reaching Africa, it does suggest that the colonization event occurred relatively recently, only shortly before the first anthropoid fossils are found in the African fossil record.

Myanmar's 37-million-year-old Afrasia is remarkable in that its teeth closely resemble those of Afrotarsius libycus, a North African primate dating to about the same time. The four known teeth of Afrasia were recovered after six years of sifting through tons of sediment near Nyaungpinle in central Myanmar. This locality occurs in the middle Eocene Pondaung Formation, where the same international research team discovered Ganlea megacanina, an influential fossil described in 2009 that helped solidify the presence of early anthropoid primates in Asia.

Details of tooth shape in the Asian Afrasia and the North African Afrotarsius fossils indicate that these animals probably ate insects. The size of their teeth suggests that in life these animals weighed around 3.5 ounces (100 g), roughly the size of a modern tarsier.

Because of the complicated structure of mammalian teeth, paleontologists often use them as fingerprints to reconstruct how extinct species are related to each other and their modern relatives. These similarities provide strong evidence that Afrasia's Asian cousins colonized North Africa only shortly before the appearance of Afrotarsius in the African fossil record. If Asian anthropoids had arrived in North Africa earlier, there would have been time for more differences to evolve between Afrasia and Afrotarsius. The close similarity in age and anatomy shared by the two species makes Afrasia a touchstone in the quest to date the spread of anthropoid primates from Asia to Africa.

"For years we thought the African fossil record was simply bad," says Professor Jean-Jacques Jaeger of the University of Poitiers in France, the team leader and a Carnegie Museum research associate. "The fact that such similar anthropoids lived at the same time in Myanmar and Libya suggests that the gap in early African anthropoid evolution is actually real. Anthropoids didn't arrive in Africa until right before we find their fossils in Libya."

Implications for future research

The search for the origin of early anthropoids -- and, by extension, early human ancestors -- is a focal point of modern paleoanthropology. The discovery of Afrasia shows that one lineage of early anthropoids colonized Africa around 37󈞒 million years ago, but the diversity of early anthropoids known from the Libyan site that produced Afrotarsius libycus hints that the true picture was more complicated. These other Libyan fossil anthropoids may be the descendants of one or more additional Asian colonists, because they don't appear to be specially related to Afrasia and Afrotarsius. Fossil evidence of evolutionary divergence -- when a species divides to create new lineages -- is critical data for researchers in evolution. The groundbreaking discovery of the relationship between Asia's Afrasia and North Africa's Afrotarsius is an important benchmark for pinpointing the date at which Asian anthropoids colonized Africa.

"Groundbreaking research like this underscores the vitality of modern natural history museums," says Sam Taylor, director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. "Research like this can only be sustained by the irreplaceable collections, curatorial expertise, and scientific infrastructure that natural history museums provide. At the same time, cutting-edge science like this revitalizes our museum's educational programs and propels its mission."

"Reconstructing events like the colonization of Africa by early anthropoids is a lot like solving a very cold case file," says Beard. "Afrasia may not be the anthropoid who actually committed the act, but it is definitely on our short list of prime suspects."

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. Yaowalak Chaimanee, Olivier Chavasseau, K. Christopher Beard, Aung Aung Kyaw, Aung Naing Soe, Chit Sein, Vincent Lazzari, Laurent Marivaux, Bernard Marandat, Myat Swe, Mana Rugbumrung, Thit Lwin, Xavier Valentin, Zin-Maung -Maung-Thein, and Jean-Jacques Jaeger. Late Middle Eocene primate from Myanmar and the initial anthropoid colonization of AfricaPNAS, June 4, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1200644109

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


The image shows two fossilized upper molars. The molar of Afrasia from Myanmar is to the right. The molar of Afrotarsius from Libya is to the left. The map shows the ancient geography of this part of the globe, approximately 38 million years ago. The 3D model is an artist's reconstruction of Afrotarsius. (Credit: Mark Klingler/Carnegie Museum of Natural History)


I see your point about the left and right side of the brain.

But as for the transition of homo sapiens to human beings, I think shes saying there was another step in human evolution that should classify us as a new species that characterizes us with the ability to communicate and build a society. The introduction of the intelligence gene. The Homo Sapiens Sapiens is the best I know to term such a concept. It's something I've pondered.

Now to describe Evolution in general:

It's simply complicated. As the Earth changes some animals can survive better while others cannot. If the trees grow taller or if the population of giraffes is so high that most of the food at the bottom of the trees is eaten then only the giraffes with necks long enough to reach the top will survive while the ones with shorter necks will die. Therefore, the only genes left to assemble a new giraffe are the long neck genes.

Billions of years ago, if you set foot in the ocean you would only survive fifteen seconds. Now in such a hostile environment isn't it natural that the creatures that evolved to live on land would survive? They start by migrating to the shallow waters where it's safer, with smaller carnivores. Then some of them could probably use their fins to crawl to safety on the beach and hold their breathe like we do underwater. If your fins were crap, you would make it to shore slower and get eaten. So as fins become more like legs, those are the genes that survive. If you can stay up longer, you survive longer, so you can either hold your breathe longer or maybe your gills can take in a little bit of oxygen from the air and pretty some, as predators adapt, all the fish who can kind of breathe stay safe longer and those who can't are eaten. After hundreds of thousands to millions of years, you have land animals.

The introduction of the intelligence gene.

That raises all sorts of red flags. 

From Brains Lab - Dolphins are actually more intelligent than humans - they do lack hands 

Question #15: The neurogenetics of interspecies brain size variance

Neural tissue is nearly an order of magnitude more energetically taxing than other tissue types, so evolutionarily, larger brains would only evolve if they endowed a selective advantage large enough to compensate for the high energy cost. On the molecular level, increases in brain size could be accounted for by various gene duplications and divergences. Here are two examples of specific genes that impact brain size:

1) ASPM codes for a protein that is necessary for the function of the mitotic spindle in neural progenitor cells. Ali and Meier sequenced ASPM exons of 28 primate types and correlated codon changes  in each primate lineage with regional brain volumes. They found a positive selection effect of 16 amino acids for cerebral cortex volume but not cerebellar nor whole brain volume. It makes sense that increases in brain density due to ASPM were localized to the cortex because that’s where ASPM is primarily expressed. So, polymorphisms here could account for some regional differences in brain size.

2) DAB1 codes for a protein that is phosphorylated at a tyrosine residue following the binding of reelin and regulates cell positioning in the developing brain. As evidence for this, knock-out studies have shown that without DAB1 mice have misplaced neurons (ectopias) in various brain regions. Pramatarov et al used a mice model that expressed 15% of wildtype DAB1 and found that they had reduced cerebellar volumes. So, polymorphisms at this locus could also account for regional differences in brain size.

Across species, animals with larger bodies tend to have larger brains on an absolute scale. However, as size increases brains become relatively smaller.

For example, Roth and Dicke point out that among larger mammals, humans have relatively the largest brains at 2% of body mass. Whereas shrews, the smallest mammals, have brain sizes of ~ 10% of their body mass. They then chart the log brain mass vs log body weight for 20 mammals:


Most of the increase in brain size in larger animals is probably due to more need for motor / sensory integration, not intelligence. Instead, interspecies intelligence differences are mainly due to increases in the size of the neocortex, as indicated by the correlation between the neocortex to overall brain size ratio and degree of socialization among primates:

Dunbar 1998

Given the huge metabolic cost of neural tissue, another covariate of brain size is metabolic capacity. In mammals, Isler et al show that 2.6% of the variance in brain mass across mammals can be explained by increases in metabolic turnover (indexed by BMR):

doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2006.0538

Mammals can meet the metabolic requirements of more brain tissue by intaking more energy content or by reducing allocation to other functions like reproduction, locomotion, etc. One hypothesis for the solution of this “energy crisis” is a reduction in gut size and an increase in food nutritional value and digestibility. Exactly how this trade-off works remains an open question as far as I know.

Inspired by CalTech’s Question #15 for cognitive scientists: “Why do some animals have larger brains than others? Why do animals with larger bodies have larger brains? How does brain size relate to metabolism or to longevity?”


Pramatarova A, et al. 2008 A genetic interaction between the APP  and Dab1 genes influences brain development. doi:10.1016/j.mcn.2007.09.008

Ali F, Meier R. 2008 Positive Selection in ASPM Is Correlated with Cerebral Cortex Evolution across Primates but Not with Whole-Brain Size.doi:10.1093/molbev/msn184

Isler K, et al. 2006 Metabolic costs of brain size evolution. Biology Letters doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2006.0538

Dunbar RM. 1998 The social brain hypothesis. Evolutionary Anthropology, pdfhere.

Roth G and Dicke U. 2005 Evolution of the brain and intelligence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences doi:10.1016/j.tics.2005.03.005

Species Encephalization quotient (EQ)[1]
Human 7.4-7.8
Bottlenose dolphin 4.14[2]
Orca 2.57-3.3[2][3]
Chimpanzee 2.2-2.5
Rhesus monkey 2.1
Elephant 1.13-2.36[4]
Dog 1.2
Cat 1.00
Horse 0.9
Sheep 0.8
Mouse 0.5
Rat 0.4
Rabbit 0.4
Whale[clarification needed] 0.18

More about EQ and other species with brains

Brain size and EQ (Encephalization Quotient)

Some EQ comparisons and what not to do with them

The first set of EQs I'm using on this page are from a single source and will vary somewhat from other figures that may be found in other sources (as you'll see in the sets of EQs I present later on this page). For instance, in this first source human EQ is listed at 5.07, while other sources may use figures up to 8 plus for humans. Besides different methods of calculating EQ there may be some variation in the specimens used as source material -- most, if not all, animals vary from individual to individual in both body and brain size, and this can make a difference depending on what source specimens are used for comparison. We tend to have a fairly large number of specimens for animals like humans, and others like rats, because we've studied those animals the most -- this should make it possible to get a better idea of the range of EQ within those species compared to less commonly studied species. So remember to be very careful about comparing EQs obtained from different sources; different articles, papers, or lists may have EQs calculated in different ways. You'll see that the individual numbers may vary from different sources, but the general outlines of comparison, the relative numbers (of, say, humans compared to monkeys) are similar.

Also, as Schoenemann, in a 2004 article (P. Thomas Schoenemann "Brain Size Scaling and Body Composition in Mammals", Brain Behavior Evolution 2004;63:47–60), points out that: "They [These results] also suggest that some measure of lean body mass is a more appropriate scaling parameter for comparing brain size across species than is overall body weight." (pg. 47)

This of course makes sense since fat varies according to food availability; it's a food source that's stored when times are good and used up when times are bad. However, Schoenemann later points out that although using Fat Free Weight would be best, it's difficult to do and isn't all that much more accurate in practice, even though it's potentially better:

"However, because FFWT [Fat Free Weight] is much more difficult to estimate than WT [Weight], and because the differences in EQ’s are likely to be small between the two methods, this is impractical even if theoretically more appropriate. There might nevertheless be subtle but important differences in EQ estimates, which could be significant in some cases given the vast range of FFWT and WT in mammals, and this should be kept in mind when comparing brain sizes across species." (pg. 58)

The effectiveness of EQ comparisons breaks down with very large (extremely large) animals -- very large whales fall into this category. For instance, the Sperm whale (EQ .28), Blue whale (EQ .15), and Humpback whale (EQ .18) are not thought to be exceptionally unintelligent, although they have very low EQs. Until you get into the larger whale-sized creatures (and after all these whales are 6 or more times larger than an African elephant) EQ works quite nicely.

Now take a look at these EQs and I'll talk about at what you shouldn't do with information like this:

Humans 5.07 
Proboscis monkey 1.11 
Red colobus 1.50 
Patas monkey 1.93 
Capuchin 2.52 
various non-human primates ranging from 1.04-4.04 (not including lemurs, which tend to have EQs lower than 1 in his set; both lemurs and langurs bring the primate average down)

Bottlenose dolphin 3.60 
various dolphins ranging from 2.43-4.45 
Ringed seal 1.37

Manatees .32 
Caribou .78 
Wildebeest .68 
Warthog .40

Hippopotamus .27 
African elephant .63

Armadillo .26 
Opossum .39

First off, too bad about the armadillo; good thing they're cute and can't bite. Then let's look at these numbers from an environmentally deterministic view, like the AAT/H typically uses. Remember, it's not a view that should be used, but it's instructive.

Look at the numbers for hippo and elephant; the semi-aquatic mammal has a much lower EQ. Look at the grouping of herbivores which includes the manatee; the aquatic manatee has a dramatically lower EQ. Look at the monkeys; the one which uses the environment that AAT/H proponents say may be similar to the one we used (the proboscis monkey) has, by a large amount, the lowest EQ. The savanna-dwelling patas monkey has a much higher EQ. Now if you were using the environmental determinism of the AAT/H, you would be forced to conclude that aquatic environments are horribly unlikely places to find higher EQs and that savanna environments are great places to find them.

But I've already mentioned that using this sort of environmental determinism is a bad idea; it just doesn't make sense (and these numbers should help anyone, even AAT/H supporters, understand why it doesn't make sense -- maybe they should consider not doing it anymore). It's not that you can't find some correlations at times -- the problem is just the reverse; there are always a great many correlations all over the place. But finding a correlation is not finding a cause.

This is well known in science, so well known that there's a maxim about it: correlation is not causation. As an example, let's say you look at the reading abilities of 5 year-olds and 10 year-olds, and you measure their height too. Guess what, they correlate extremely well -- so does increased height cause increased reading ability? Does increased reading ability cause increased height? Or are both due to some other factor or factors? Anytime you see a correlation you have to do look past the correlation if you looking for the cause -- the correlation is not necessarily the cause. It might be in some cases; it often isn't. And be sure to check to see if the correlation is actually accurate too.

I've already mentioned (on the BBC page) what actual correlations can reasonably be seen as causes for these EQ differences: predator species generally have higher EQs than prey species, prey species which use active predator-avoidance strategies generally have higher EQs than prey species which use passive predator-avoidance strategies, and animals which live socially, especially in relatively small groups with a lot of individual interaction, tend to have higher EQs than other species.

This is because, due to selection pressure during evolution, the more a species needs to think, the higher their EQ. But larger brains are not necessarily better, because the larger the brain, the more energy it takes to develop it and feed it. So animals tend to develop the size brain they need and that's about it. They are not, as Attenborough suggests, just waiting for the right diet so they can grow a bigger brain and outdo their competition.

By the way, you may have noticed that the AAT/H is largely made up of correlations, many of them inaccurate or imagined. (As seen in common questions put forth by AAT/H proponents such as "where do we find animals which are (fill in the blank)" -- where the "blank" is fat. or hairlessness, crying emotional tears, sweating, having breath control, etc.) But even if the correlations were real, they still aren't the evidence AAT/H proponents seem to think, just as the very real aquatic vs. savanna correlations I showed above are not evidence for the "savannas are better than aquatic" conclusion I put forward (with tongue in cheek). Likewise, Crawford's "aquatic is better" conclusion is not supported by the correlation he mentions, even if the correlation were accurate and not an inaccurate "apples to oranges" (predator to herbivore) comparison. His conclusion is damaged even more because his correlation isn't even accurate.

Let me show you one more example of why AAT/H proponents can't (and really shouldn't try) use brain size as evidence because of it's supposed correlation with the habitats and lifestyles they say the "aquatic ape" used. Note that these EQs are from a different source than those above and shouldn't be directly compared with those EQs, since they were calculated somewhat differently -- humans, for example, are listed at 6.28 or 8.07 rather than 5.07 as in the above set of figures -- always be careful about comparing EQs from different sources.

In the following sets of EQs the species AAT/H proponents most often point to as occupying a habitat and living a lifestyle like that of our supposed aquatic ancestors are bonobos and proboscis monkeys. The species which occupy savannas (besides humans) are baboons and patas monkeys. Note that bonobos, although they are demonstrably quite smart animals, have lower EQs than their close relatives the chimpanzees and humans. If one was to use the environmental determinism regarding brain size that Crawford, Cunnane, and other AAT/H proponents say we should use (and keep in mind that I do not suggest this is a good idea; just the opposite) we would be forced to conclude that a semi-aquatic lifestyle to the degree of bonobos is bad for brain growth. Likewise, when we look at the proboscis monkey and compare it to other monkeys, such as the guenon, mangabey, macaque, patas monkey, or baboon.


EQ -- from Martin 1984

EQ -- from Jerison 1973
Homo sapiens 6.28 8.07
gibbon 2.40 2.60
common chimpanzee 2.38 3.01
bonobo 1.80 2.36
macaque (Macaca) 1.78 1.95
mangabey (Cercocebus) 2.09 2.29
guenon (Cercopithecus) 1.96 2.05
proboscis monkey (Nasalis) 1.07 1.24
Colobus 1.27 1.41
baboon (Papio) 1.74 2.05
patas monkey (Erythrocebus) 1.99 2.19
capuchin monkey (Cebus) 3.25 3.25

Now these conclusions do not hold, of course, because this sort of environmental determinism, as practiced by AAT/H proponents, is BS, to be blunt. But since they use it, one might wonder why they don't mention these uncomfortable conclusions which inevitably follow from it.

By the way, check out the forest-dwelling (and tool using) capuchin -- it just throws the final monkey wrench, so to speak, into the AAT/H-style environmental/dietary deterministic strategy for explaining brain growth. Just don't use that strategy; it doesn't fit the facts.

Jerison, HJ, 1973 Evolution of the brain and intelligence. Academic Press, New York.

Martin, RD, 1984 "Body size, brain size and feeding strategies", in Food acquisition and processing in primates. Chivers, D; Wood, B; Bilsborough, A, eds. Plenum Press, New York.

Schoenemann, P. Thomas, 2004 "Brain Size Scaling and Body Composition in Mammals", Brain Behavior Evolution 63:47–60

That doesn't mean it's not true.

In fact there is a group of genes specific to humans called the HAR genes which are believed to be those genes. I believe they specifically look at HAR1 from mental development.

I wonder if all humans have it sometimes, though.

HAR are not only not "intelligence" genes, they are actually not even genes. HAR stands for Human Accelerated Region. These are small regions of our genome where the we have experienced an accumulation of changes compared to chimps. Most of them are in non-coding regions, meaning they are NOT genes. We have no idea what these HAR do. The speculation is that they play a regulatory role, since they do not code for proteins. The only one that is contained within a gene is HAR1, part of the HAR1F gene, which codes for an RNA of unknown function. It is very interesting, though that this RNA is expressed in the neocortex of human embryos between 7-19 gestational weeks (link to original publication, it's in Nature, 2006; there is a very similar publication in 2006, from the same research group, in PLoS Genetics, which is free access). So it is very plausible that this RNA has something to do with the unique development of the human neocortex. But to call that an intelligence gene is a bit of a stretch. HARs have been look at in Neanderthals and denisovan DNA, and there are 8% novel substitutions in this HARs, so at least some of these alleles are more recent than the separation of our ancestors from those of Neanderthals and Denisovans. But as you can see from this very recent 2012 publication (free access, too), the researchers still have no idea what these HARs actually do.

It's interesting that you bring this up, Daryl, since when the 2006 papers came out, the creationists were all over this "HAR genes" story claiming that it disproved evolution. The scientific community did not pay too much attention to them, since they are interesting, but we have no clue what they mean.

Yeah. Those Creationists will pounce at anything to fit their ideology after hating science for proving them wrong. Fortunately, there are more things in the Bible to use against them than there are in science against us. Unfortunately, they'll never listen.

On a side note: Even if the HAR1F were exactly as speculated and were even deliberately placed, God, would be a misnomer for whoever had done it. It would be a mortal being with a scientific understanding of the universe not unlike our own. This would likely explain why anything in science could ever be used against us; even as crappy as their depth was into the study and their poorly put together arguments were.

Homo Heidelburgensis to Homo Sapiens. If you say ape to man you are only supporting creationists who would make a mockery of evolution.

i wouldnt, I just show the Carl Sagan videos on youtube, why would I bother explaining when someone does it so elegantly, beautifully, and non-confrontationally. 


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