Humanity becomes stupid?

Did you know that over the past 25 thousand years the human brain has decreased? Anthropologists it has long been known. About the reasons, says well-known Russian anthropologist Stanislav Drobyshevskiy and makes it a very disappointing forecast.

Человечество глупеет?

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The volume of the brain of the ancestors of modern humans in the upper Paleolithic (about 35-12 thousand years ago) was equal to about 1,500 CC Today, the average brain volume of men of all races is equal to approximately 1425 cubic cm, and women — 1350 CC Than scientists explain this difference in figures between our ancestors and modern man?
“Some, especially proud of their own intelligence, tend to talk vaguely about the importance of the quantity and quality of interneuronal connections, not a position of principle of the absolute mass of the brain, the lack of correlation between weight and intelligence, the differences of brain mass and volume of the brain cavity of the skull, about the intricacies of the methods, the ratio of neurons and glia, ? writes Stanislav Drobyshevskiy on the website ? However, the neurons of the Neanderthals and CRO-magnon we know nothing, and about the size of the brain – know. There is a second option: the ancients were smarter than us.”
It would seem a strange conclusion. And, according to Drobyshevsky, of course, he usually surprises people. Indeed, as the CRO-magnons and Neanderthals could be smarter than us, because they had a less developed culture and in General… in addition, the fact that intelligence is not strictly related to the amount of brain knows it’s probably any educated person.
“The first objection the reply is simpler ? writes Stanislav Drobyshevsky. ? Ancient people lived in much more difficult conditions than we are now.” And this is understandable. Each of our ancestor in those difficult times, had to store all the information about the world around him (how to make fire, how to find a suitable for habitation cave how to kill a mammoth, how to protect yourself from diseases, etc.) in one single head ? and rely mostly only on their knowledge and experience.

Человечество глупеет?

The average brain volume of modern man is equal to about 1425 CC / ©Flickr

In our today’s life specialization separated to such an extent that our ancestors could not imagine the doctors don’t just deal exclusively with treatment, but everyone treats only “their” disease; the profession of a Builder involves not only the stacker of bricks, but also engineer, architect, crane operator, fitter, etc.
If you think that all this is an ambiguous question, try, say, to make a hatchet from “natural” materials. I think it will do just fitting the blade of the axe to the axe handle? As it is not so. First you need to mine ore, to pour out her blade, cut (made, again, with their own hands the gun) a strong branch to cut…
“Modern man of wood was not wearing poles is not sawed, dug ore, iron is not forged, – here and there he did, in the sense of the brain, – says Stanislav Drobyshevsky.
Besides the fact that ancient man was supposed to be, that is, on all hands the master, just before he was to reach your mind, as experienced teachers were too little, the life expectancy was very low.

Человечество глупеет?

The skull of a Neanderthal / ©Adam Fagen

Meanwhile, our brain, as we know, is very energetically expensive organ — he needs a huge amount of calories every day. Drobyshevsky: “the Reason Paleolithic people often had a powerful physique – they have been hard to feed your powerful brain, fortunately, not yet depleted environment with herds of mammoths and bison allowed”.
Reducing the size of the brain began in the Neolithic age, when people learned to farm and began to move on the carbohydrate diet. The abundance of food has led to an increase in the human population, but to reduce the size of the body and brain. In the evolutionary race was won by the smaller individuals, but with increased reproductive performance.
Of course, along with farmers existed and nomadic herders whose lives have obviously been better fed. No wonder the group record of the size of the brain belongs to the modern representatives of the nomadic tribes (Buryats, Kazakhs, Mongols). But their life has always been simpler than the farmers (stability, pronounced specialization), and to Rob the farmers they always have, which is incomparably easier than to grow crops for themselves. “All pastoral culture depend on neighboring agricultural. Therefore, brain size decreased at all – totally on the planet,” writes the anthropologist.
However, we know that modern hunter-gatherers – the Bushmen, the Australian aborigines, pygmies, etc. – the size of the brain is always very small. It turns out, their brain decreased more rapidly than the farmers and ranchers go out, their life was easier?

Человечество глупеет?

Neanderthal. Redesign / ©Josh Bassett

But, according to Stanislav Drobyshevsky, the decrease in size of the brain may be different. First and foremost, we must not forget that progress even among these tribes still were, and considerable. For 30 thousand years the Australian aborigines boomerangs appeared, microlites, wild dogs, dingoes. And exchange between different communities of hunter-gatherers was always — they exchanged experiences and tools. The second reason for the decrease in the brain of these tribes may be the deterioration of their living conditions. Drobyshevsky: “In the Paleolithic this life were all, therefore, the population density and competition was minimal load on the environment was also very weak. Not frightened herd of bison covered the steppe from horizon to horizon, a low level of technology does not allow lime them all, but gave enough food to maintain a great body and the brain.”
Life in the Paleolithic Golden age, of course, can not be called: hunger, cold, disease and predators. But in General the life of our ancestors of those times, and modern Bushmen living in the Kalahari desert, was a better and satisfying.
The fact that the modern tribes of hunter-gatherers pushed aside by agriculturalists and cattle herders in the most adverse habitats. Bushmen, for example, compelled frankly to survive, trying to find some food in the arid areas of the Kalahari (about the life and customs of the Bushmen, read the article “Bans and customs: Africa”).
“Not enough food, not enough capacity to sustain a large brain. Reason modern hunters always have very small body and a very slender body type, not even close, not comparable with the Neanderthal”, ? says the anthropologist, “In light of this, it is natural that with the emergence of the productive economy the size of the brain of the oppressed hunter-gatherers was drastically reduced. Upper Paleolithic Paradise is over.”

Человечество глупеет?

CRO-magnon of sungir burial / ©Flickr

With regard to the second objection — the fuzzy correlation between brain size and intelligence — Stanislav Drobyshevsky explains: intelligence for the most part, do not strongly depend on the size of the brain, and even the number of neurons and the number of associative neurons, and the number of connections between neurons. And this factor for a certain number of percent is associated with heredity, some is the lifestyle and experience. If the individual will learn — he will be intelligent, will not remain stupid.
It is worth noting that the number of neurons throughout life is extremely reduced and the ability of the brain continue to grow — this is due to the emergence of new interneuronal connections. So I have yet to recognize — the big brain has the potential to be more intelligent, but of factors and of reservations that stand in his way too much, so this relationship is in fact not. Not surprising in this context that the owners of large brain are not outstanding people.
But in the interspecific scale, according to Drobyshevsky, the relationship of brain size and intelligence are very clear (although adjusted for body weight, the brain of the whale is disproportionately higher than ours, but the body of the whale compared to our incredibly large): cats are stupider than dogs, and mice are stupider than elephants. The body size of the CRO-magnons and Neanderthals are quite comparable to ours, but the size of their brain was still more than we do. This is despite the fact that the power of Homo sapiens has since become much more stable.

Человечество глупеет?

Neanderthal skeleton / ©Neil R

“Therefore, size changes are connected primarily with the intellect. Where we started – makes not a very pleasant conclusion Stanislav Drobyshevsky. – What is the prognosis? The increasing specialisation and independence from environmental conditions, security of survival regardless of personal qualities makes the Outlook bleak. On the other hand, General human intelligence is infinitely growing.”