A new study of the skull of an early hominin child provides a better understanding of the evolutionary timeline for modern human skulls-and brains. The skulls of modern humans are highly flexible at birth so they can both fit through a narrow birth canal and expand to hold a brain that grows substantially in early life. When researchers scanned the skull of the Taung child (Australopithicus africanus), they found structural features similar to those in the flexible skulls of modern infants. The australopith may have faced challenges in childbirth and early brain development similar to those faced by modern humans, requiring infant skull flexibility.
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 August 19, 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/.
PNAS: Metopic suture of Taung (Australopithecus africanus) and its implications for hominin brain evolution
Human Brain Evolution: What Fossils Tell Us
Computer Assisted Paleoanthropology (CAP), University of Zurich
Australopithecus africanus: The man-ape of South Africa
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