8. Hominid Brain Evolution

  1. David R. Begun
  1. P. Thomas Schoenemann

Published Online: 14 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch8

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

How to Cite

Schoenemann, P. T. (2013) Hominid Brain Evolution, in A Companion to Paleoanthropology (ed D. R. Begun), Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch8

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 FEB 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444331165

Online ISBN: 9781118332344



  • fossil record;
  • hominid brain evolution;
  • primate species


Understanding hominid brain evolution involves identifying both the physical changes that occurred, as well as understanding the reasons for the changes. There are two ways in which inferences about evolutionary changes are made. By comparing a species of interest against other modern species, one can determine what exactly is different. By studying the fossil record, one assesses the time-course of evolutionary changes. Most comparative studies have primarily focused on how humans differ from expectations based on primate trends, though ape disproportions have also been highlighted when found. In light of the evidence regarding functional implications of neuroanatomical differences, it is possible to outline likely behavioral implications of neuroanatomical evolution in apes and humans. First, changes in ape brains suggest a significant enhancement of general cognitive ability, behavioral flexibility, learning, and planning compared with monkeys. Further changes during human evolution suggest even greater enhancement of same abilities in our lineage.