THURSDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- New X-rays revealed the
best and most accurate images of the brain shape of an early human
ancestor, according to researchers.
The images of the fossil of an ancient species, known as MH 1 (
Australopithecus sediba), shed new light on the evolution of the human brain, the study authors explained in the paper published Sept. 9 in the journal Science.
The well-preserved MH 1 fossil was discovered by Lee Berger from
the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa,
back in 2009. The cranium of the fossil was scanned at high
resolution at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in
France. Berger noted in a news release from the facility that the
advanced features of the brain made it "possibly the best candidate
ancestor" for the human genus.
The researchers pointed out that humans have a very large brain
relative to their body size, about four times that of chimpanzees.
Although the reconstructed volume of the MH 1 cranium was
surprisingly small, they found its overall shape resembles humans
more than chimpanzees.
The scientists also concluded that the X-ray images are
consistent with a model of gradual brain reorganization in the
front part of the brain.
The paper is included in a five-part series conducted by an
international group of scientists about various parts of the
Australopithecus sediba anatomy.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
has more about the