Has Our Domesticated Lifestyle Shrunk Our Brain?
As much as we might think that the human race is reaching the prime – the pinnacle – of our intellectual development, with our most recent amazing developments in not only technology, but also in the many fields of science.
Scientists have discovered some disturbing news.
Contrary to what we may believe, our brains have been shrinking over the past 20,000 years.
Fossil records have shown that the average human brain 20,000 years ago was around 1,500 cm3, whereas it is only around 1,350 cm3 now.
Which is quite a lot in terms of volume.
Leading scientists believe this might be due to our ‘domestication’.
Domesticated animals will have also experienced brain shrinkage
At the Times Cheltenham Science Festival, Professor Bruce Hood likened this phenomenon to those of domesticated animals.
Apparently, animals also undergo a similar change in their brain’s volume when domesticated, as opposed to those in the wild.
It really is contrary to what most people believe, with our advancements in intellectual developments.
Brain shrinkage is believed to be a side effect of domestication.
However, Prof. Hood explains that this might be largely due to our change of lifestyle from hunting and gathering, to living in close agricultural communities.
This is where social skills may have always trumped aggression in terms of what’s needed for evolution to continue.
In this way, just as wild dogs, where they are bred away from aggression (i.e., only those who are tame are bred), humans might have reproduced the same way as well.
Aggression might have been frowned upon on the efforts to advance humanity.
In the same way that these wild dogs lose brain size when they become tame and ‘domesticated’, humans might have experienced such as well.
We know this to be the case in dogs because scientists have compared both wolves and dogs of the same size.
The results showed that in all cases no matter what body size the wolf always had the bigger brain.
This is believed to be a result of dogs being more comfortable in their surrounding not having to rely on hunting which requires a lot of brain power.
“Every animal that’s been domesticated has experienced shrinkage in brain size. Unfortunately, this applies to humans as well.”
Prof. Bruce Hood
This domestication process, in which humans lose aggression over many, many generations, might have literally altered the nature of human intelligence.
Being able to gain social skills and live together might have caused an incurred expense in turns of our brain size.
However, again, this was quite necessary in our development process, and allowed early humans to survive together.