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Homo naledi’s brain shows humanlike features

Mysterious hominid had neural features associated with social emotions and communication, researchers claim

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12:08pm, April 25, 2017
casts of Homo naledi’s brain

GO FOR BROCA  A virtual cast of Homo naledi’s brain surface contains clues to the presence of a region (pointed to by red arrow) that may correspond to Broca’s area in present-day people. This language-related neural region enhanced social emotions and communication in the still-undated southern African Homo species, researchers contend.

NEW ORLEANS — A relatively small brain can pack a big evolutionary punch. Consider Homo naledi, a famously puzzling fossil species in the human genus. Despite having a brain only slightly larger than a chimpanzee’s, H. naledi displays key humanlike neural features, two anthropologists reported April 20 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

Those brain characteristics include a region corresponding to Broca’s area, which spans parts of the right and left sides of the brain in present-day people. The left side is typically involved in speech and language.

“It looks like Homo naledi’s brain evolved a huge amount of shape change that supported social emotions and advanced communication of some type,” said Shawn Hurst of Indiana University Bloomington, who presented the new findings. “We can&rsquo

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