A good sense of smell may have contributed to the development of certain kinds of social functions in Homo sapiens, according to a new study. Scientists used 3D modeling to reconstruct modern human and Neanderthal brains and discovered that the olfactory areas, which govern smell, are larger in humans. Their models also show that humans have larger temporal lobes, regions related to social behavior. Future studies will explore the possibility of a connection between the olfactory and temporal regions of the brain and the evolution of sophisticated social behavior in humans.

This latest Human Bulletin from the American Museum of Natural History's Science Bulletins program is on display in the Hall of Human Origins until April 30, 2012.

Science Bulletins is a production of the National Center for Science Literacy, Education, and Technology (NCSLET), part of the Department of Education at the American Museum of Natural History. Find out more about Science Bulletins at amnh.org/sciencebulletins/.

Related Links

NATURE: Evolution of the base of the brain in highly encephalized human species

El Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturale (CSIC): Paleobiología

Max Planck Institute: Department of Human Evolution

Natural History Museum: Paleontology Department, Anthropology

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