Navigation Links
Human skull study causes evolutionary headache
Date:12/20/2011

Scientists studying a unique collection of human skulls have shown that changes to the skull shape thought to have occurred independently through separate evolutionary events may have actually precipitated each other.

Researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Barcelona examined 390 skulls from the Austrian town of Hallstatt and found evidence that the human skull is highly integrated, meaning variation in one part of the skull is linked to changes throughout the skull.

The Austrian skulls are part of a famous collection kept in the Hallstatt Catholic Church ossuary; local tradition dictates that the remains of the town's dead are buried but later exhumed to make space for future burials. The skulls are also decorated with paintings and, crucially, bear the name of the deceased. The Barcelona team made measurements of the skulls and collected genealogical data from the church's records of births, marriages and deaths, allowing them to investigate the inheritance of skull shape.

The team tested whether certain parts of the skull the face, the cranial base and the skull vault or brain case changed independently, as anthropologists have always believed, or were in some way linked. The scientists simulated the shift of the foramen magnum (where the spinal cord enters the skull) associated with upright walking; the retraction of the face, thought to be linked to language development and perhaps chewing; and the expansion and rounding of the top of the skull, associated with brain expansion. They found that, rather than being separate evolutionary events, changes in one part of the brain would facilitate and even drive changes in the other parts.

"We found that genetic variation in the skull is highly integrated, so if selection were to favour a shape change in a particular part of the skull, there would be a response involving changes throughout the skull," said Dr Chris Klingenberg, in Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences

"We were able to use the genetic information to simulate what would happen if selection were to favour particular shape changes in the skull. As those changes, we used the key features that are derived in humans, by comparison with our ancestors: the shift of the foramen magnum associated with the transition to bipedal posture, the retraction of the face, the flexion of the cranial base, and, finally, the expansion of the braincase.

"As much as possible, we simulated each of these changes as a localised shape change limited to a small region of the skull. For each of the simulations, we obtained a predicted response that included not only the change we selected for, but also all the others. All those features of the skull tended to change as a whole package. This means that, in evolutionary history, any of the changes may have facilitated the evolution of the others."

Lead author Dr Neus Martnez-Abadas, from the University of Barcelona's, added: "This study has important implications for inferences on human evolution and suggests the need for a reinterpretation of the evolutionary scenarios of the skull in modern humans."


'/>"/>
Contact: Aeron Haworth
aeron.haworth@manchester.ac.uk
44-161-275-8383
University of Manchester
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics celebrates 10th birthday by presenting major gifts to human health
2. Scientists identify novel inhibitor of human microRNA
3. During exercise, the human brain shifts into high gear on alternative energy
4. Complete Genomics launches, becomes worlds first large-scale human genome sequencing company
5. Research shows Brazilian acai berry antioxidants absorbed by human body
6. Study: Bird diversity lessens human exposure to West Nile Virus
7. Human Microbiome Project awards funds for technology development, data analysis and ethical research
8. TheVisualMD.com launches new animated 3-D views of human body in action
9. Gene with probable role in human susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis identified
10. The American Society of Human Genetics hosts 58th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia
11. Genetic based human diseases are an ancient evolutionary legacy
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/21/2016)... -- Unique technology combines v ...   Xura, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... communications services, today announced it is working alongside SpeechPro ... particularly those in the Financial Services Sector, the ability ... a mobile app, alongside, and in combination with, traditional ...
(Date:3/15/2016)... -- Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew ... Hebrew University, announced today the formation of Neteera ... human biological indicators. Neteera Technologies has completed its first ... ... emissions from sweat ducts, enables reliable and speedy biometric ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... -- --> --> ... Market by Technology (Pattern Recognition), by Component (Hardware, Software, ... (On-Premises and Cloud), by Industry Vertical and by Region ... global market is expected to grow from USD 12.49 ... at a CAGR of 19.1%. , ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... Scientists at the University of Athens ... for mesothelioma may be hampering the research that could lead to one good one. ... to read it now. , The team evaluated 98 mesothelioma patients ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... Connecticut (PRWEB) , ... May 25, 2016 , ... ... the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the company’s orphan drug ... the company’s second orphan drug designation granted by the FDA. , Spinocerebellar ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... La Jolla, CA (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2016 , ... ... and financial planning for corporate executives and entrepreneurs, held The Future of San Diego ... leaders in the San Diego life science community attended the event with speakers Dr. ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... ... May 23, 2016 , ... PrecisionAg® Media has ... 2017 and Beyond. The paper outlines the key trends that are creating both ... “We’ve witnessed a lot of highs and lows as the precision agriculture market ...
Breaking Biology Technology: