Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Scientists Postulate Extinct Hominid With 150 IQ

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-could-they-invent-pizza-rolls dept.

Science 568

Hugh Pickens writes "Neuroscientists Gary Lynch and Richard Granger have an interesting article in Discover Magazine about the Boskops, an extinct hominid that had big eyes, child-like faces, and forebrains roughly 50% larger than modern man indicating they may have had an average intelligence of around 150, making them geniuses among Homo sapiens. The combination of a large cranium and immature face would look decidedly unusual to modern eyes, but not entirely unfamiliar. Such faces peer out from the covers of countless science fiction books and are often attached to 'alien abductors' in movies. Naturalist Loren Eiseley wrote: 'Back there in the past, ten thousand years ago. The man of the future, with the big brain, the small teeth. He lived in Africa. His brain was bigger than your brain.' The history of evolutionary studies has been dogged by the almost irresistible idea that evolution leads to greater complexity, to animals that are more advanced than their predecessor, yet the existence of the Boskops argues otherwise — that humans with big brains, and perhaps great intelligence, occupied a substantial piece of southern Africa in the not very distant past, and that they eventually gave way to smaller-brained, possibly less advanced Homo sapiens — that is, ourselves. 'With 30 percent larger brains than ours now, we can readily calculate that a population with a mean brain size of 1,750 cc would be expected to have an average IQ of 149,' write Lynch and Granger. But why did they go extinct? 'Maybe all that thoughtfulness was of no particular survival value in 10,000 BC. Lacking the external hard drive of a literate society, the Boskops were unable to exploit the vast potential locked up in their expanded cortex,' write Lynch and Granger. 'They were born just a few millennia too soon.'"

cancel ×

568 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Yes we all know size is everything... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605166)

Increased brain size means more intelligence? That's just as silly as that other correlation we always hear about.

Oh, and in before "IT'S... IQ OVER 9000"

Re:Yes we all know size is everything... (3, Interesting)

the_womble (580291) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605192)

Exactly me immediate reaction. How intelligent do these guys expect an elephant to be?

Re:Yes we all know size is everything... (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605358)

The article states that the intelligence is estimated from the prefrontal cortex size. How big is that of an elephant?

Re:Yes we all know size is everything... (3, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605556)

Take a peek... http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/61/Ele-brain.png [wikimedia.org]

The brain seems larger, but seeing as the pre-frontal cortex isn't marked its relative size is difficult to guess. It is also worth bearing in mind that elephants are pretty intelligent animals.

Re:Yes we all know size is everything... (3, Funny)

halfey (1516717) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605402)

...big eyes, child-like faces...

which reminds me of some anime characters

Re:Yes we all know size is everything... (2, Funny)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605428)

Exactly me immediate reaction. How intelligent do these guys expect an elephant to be?

I think the question is, how intelligent do the elephants expect these guys to be?

Re:Yes we all know size is everything... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605472)

"Exactly me immediate reaction. How intelligent do these guys expect an elephant to be?"

Actually the elephants have calculated the fate of the universe and realize it's all pointless, they are secretly laugh at us all!

Re:Yes we all know size is everything... (0, Redundant)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605486)

How intelligent do these guys expect an elephant to be?

Elephants, whales... Lots of other species have bigger brains than humans. For that matter, who says that people with bigger heads are any smarter in the first place?

-jcr

Re:Yes we all know size is everything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605574)

That's kind of what I was thinking. The skulls show human brains shrinking. Well maybe they were getting more optimized. In other words, performing the same or better functions with reduced support material.

Re:Yes we all know size is everything... (0)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605580)

I have an IQ in the ballpark of the estimate of this species, and whilst my head is large enough that I broke all the paper hats I tried to wear at Christmas - it certainly isn't 25% larger than the average human cranium. At least, not in physical terms :)

Re:Yes we all know size is everything... (3, Insightful)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605348)

Yes, I'm sure they found it easy to create a standardized and unbiased IQ test for an extinct family based solely on their postulated brain size. *snicker*

Re:Yes we all know size is everything... (2, Insightful)

SchroedingersCat (583063) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605662)

It ain't size of brains that matters for evolution purposes...

Atlanteans? (1)

Un-Thesis (700342) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605176)

Heh, I'll just be the first "whacko" to propose that these were a couple of Atlanteans off on an African safari. Those sabertooths must have been pretty nasty to leave just the heads!

survival of the hungry (4, Funny)

decula03 (1082847) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605178)

Mmmmmmmm Brains

Re:survival of the hungry (4, Funny)

nhytefall (1415959) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605216)

BOOM!! Headshot!

Re:survival of the hungry (3, Insightful)

Lord Lemur (993283) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605282)

Even with larger brain pans the discription of them as being more complex may not infact be a completely true statement. Did they have vocal cords that were sophisticated enough to produce real language? Did they all have something akin to autism spectrum disorder. Did the added brain capacity lead to any actual increase in computational, creative or otherwise survival enhancing benifit over Homo Sapien? Or, as maybe more likely, it was useless fatty tissue that wasn't utalized and became a burden. History tends to show that if you don't fit the niche some one else will supplant you that does.

Further, being born with a huge head is hard on female. With out C-sections, how would a woman survive? Maybe they procreated with homo sapians and lost the genetic destinction.

Or maybe they were eaten by zombies

Re:survival of the hungry (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605594)

Depends when the baby comes out. Human babies are one of the only mammals that can't walk soon after birth, because we come out earlier to save straining the mothers. Perhaps they took this further.

Re:survival of the hungry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605678)

modded offtopic since you're not replying to anything GP said.

One problem ... (5, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605180)

Evolution may favour the most clever and the most adaptable, but this homonid suffered from one utterly fatal genetic flaw: it was delicious.

Re:One problem ... (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605374)

If evolution only favored big complex beings like ourselves, all the millions of other life forms which inhabit the earth, totaling a far greater mass than us, wouldn't be around. The bacteria and viruses of today are more evolved than us, having been doing it for far longer.

Re:One problem ... (5, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605570)

If evolution only favored big complex beings like ourselves, all the millions of other life forms which inhabit the earth, totaling a far greater mass than us, wouldn't be around.

We aren't in competition with most bacteria (or viruses), so it doesn't really make sense to say that evolution favours one over other.

The bacteria and viruses of today are more evolved than us, having been doing it for far longer.

The bacteria and viruses of today have exactly as long evolutionary history than us.

And the concept of "more evolved" doesn't really make sense. "Better adapted" does, as does "more complex", but "more evolved" doesn't mean anything because, all together now, "evolution doesn't have a goal, so there's no way to say which entity is more and which less evolved".

Re:One problem ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605384)

Actually, their flaw was probably being arrogant and condescending.

A good number of Slashdotters should take heed. You days are numbered!

Re:One problem ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605654)

Evolution favors the survival of the most clever???? You don't live in the United States, don't you? And you probably never been at MySpace as well...

epenis (1)

Qlither (1614211) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605204)

"His brain was bigger than your brain." Lies, my brains are huge! Lets mob rush the little prick.

IQ is a relative scale, not an objective one (1, Redundant)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605206)

If it was their average intelligence, it wouldn't be a 150 IQ, now would it? It would be 100.

Re:IQ is a relative scale, not an objective one (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605314)

Well, a dollar is a dollar, a pound is a pound and a euro is a euro... until you start measuring one against the other. 100 on the IQ scale for Boskops is 150 on the scale for us.

Re:IQ is a relative scale, not an objective one (2, Informative)

Mistah Bunny (1256566) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605340)

The article refers to the average Boskop IQ as 150 on our own scale as a way of comparison. It's not too useful to answer "100" whenever asked the average IQ of a species.

Re:IQ is a relative scale, not an objective one (2, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605360)

While you are correct that it's a relative scale, they are comparing it to the current population (i.e. 100% homo sapiens sapiens) to arrive at the above average IQ figure. It may be disingenuous since we know so little about the rest of their physiology, but it's a fair guess that compared to us they were a lot smarter (since intelligence is almost entirely derived from the upper region of the brain)

What I want to know is, can we clone them (vis-a-vis the de-extinction process discussed a few days ago) and create a clone army of super-brainiacs to do our bidding? This could be the just the solution to outsourcing that the US has been hoping for.

Re:IQ is a relative scale, not an objective one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605530)

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Re:IQ is a relative scale, not an objective one (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605568)

I Know, Right!?

Does a bigger brain really mean higher IQ? (4, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605214)

Does a bigger brain necessarily mean they had a higher IQ? Does it really work like that? I get there could be the _potential_ for a higher IQ, but just because someone has more gray matter doesn't necessarily mean they are smarter.

Re:Does a bigger brain really mean higher IQ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605278)

Does a bigger brain necessarily mean they had a higher IQ? Does it really work like that? I get there could be the _potential_ for a higher IQ, but just because someone has more gray matter doesn't necessarily mean they are smarter.

My thoughts exactly. A dolphin, the mammal with one of the largest brains out there, is NOT smarter then a human.

Brains do more then just think. Perhaps they could see in a different color spectrum, or hear ultrasonic sounds. Both would result in significantly larger brains.

Re:Does a bigger brain really mean higher IQ? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605354)

A dolphin, the mammal with one of the largest brains out there, is NOT smarter then a human.

By what measure? As far as can be told, Dolphin's apply their brains to different types of activities and problems to humans. I can imagine having tests that compare dolphin intelligence levels relative to other dolphins, and of course there are tests that purport to measure human intelligence levels relative to other humans, but I doubt you could create any meaningful unified scale for comparing humans to dolphins. Where would you start?

Re:Does a bigger brain really mean higher IQ? (2, Funny)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605416)

A dolphin, the mammal with one of the largest brains out there, is NOT smarter then a human.

That's what Arthur Dent thought too.

Re:Does a bigger brain really mean higher IQ? (3, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605624)

It isn't brain size they are on about, its the size of a specific region of the brain. Other mammals assign their neurological resources differently; and in the case of dolphins I imagine a lot of the extra hardware for things such as echolocation.

Re:Does a bigger brain really mean higher IQ? (1)

Demena (966987) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605350)

Given that identity, self, is a holographic issue it may very well imply that. Also the notion that the intelligence was "no use" seems to smack of jealousy. Intelligence is always useful. Increased or better filtered perception would be a given. I would hypothesise that disease wiped them out before they really got going. Intelligence actually seems to increase risky behaviour to a point. Curiosity does that. It might counter the revulsion and fear we have to death and disease that has helped us survive in the past.

Re:Does a bigger brain really mean higher IQ? (4, Insightful)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605466)

Intelligence is always useful.

Not if it costs something. For example, IIRC the human brain takes 20% of a human's energy budget. If these hominids had bigger brains, they needed more food to keep them fed. More intelligence, in return for requiring more food to survive, may not be a good tradeoff.

Re:Does a bigger brain really mean higher IQ? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605406)

While more gray matter isn't a direct cause of more brain power, we do know a little about how different parts of the brain work and which are more useful for what. This creature has a lot more volume in the upper brain area, where more conscious thoughts and memories take place. If it were just a bigger head overall, sure it wouldn't point to something inherently 'smarter'. However, with more of the 'right stuff' in it's head it is highly likely that it was smarter than comparable creatures with smaller prefrontal/forebrain areas (particularly, humans).

Re:Does a bigger brain really mean higher IQ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605418)

Steven Jay Gould wrote a whole book on this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mismeasure_of_Man

Basically:

1) No, a bigger brain does not make you smarter.

2) There is no single measure of intelligence as claimed by proponents of IQ.

I wish I could find the section, but there was a neat part where he talks about historical attempts to figure out why some men of demonstrated genius have such small skulls and others of mediocre accomplishments have such large ones.

Re:Does a bigger brain really mean higher IQ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605436)

That was surprising to me too. However the article states the following, which is interesting if true:

Expanding the brain changes its internal proportions in highly predictable ways. From ape to human, the brain grows about fourfold, but most of that increase occurs in the cortex, not in more ancient structures. Moreover, even within the cortex, the areas that grow by far the most are the association areas, while cortical structures such as those controlling sensory and motor mechanisms stay unchanged.

Re:Does a bigger brain really mean higher IQ? (1)

rainmaestro (996549) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605464)

The two are loosely correlated. A much more important indicator than size is the complexity of the brain's internal structure. Density of neurons, number of interconnections, etc. To put a tech spin on it, a larger CPU might mean more processing power, but if it has fewer transistors per square inch, the computing power won't be any higher. These IQ comparisons always hold the internal structure to be constant.

By comparison, Homo neanderthalensis had a larger brain than Homo sapiens, on average. But while they are accepted to have been quite intelligent, they are seldom thought to have been more intelligent than H. sapiens.

It seems more likely that nature would select for a smaller, more densely packed brain than a larger, loosely packed brain. Big brain != more complex.

As always... Wikipedia provides some sanity (4, Informative)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605218)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boskop_Man [wikipedia.org]

The Discover article is a bunch of garbage. the idea that this was some sort of homonid species has been debuniked over 50 years ago.

Re:As always... Wikipedia provides some sanity (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605334)

Even clearer than the WP article is the link it provides: http://johnhawks.net/weblog/reviews/brain/paleo/lynch-granger-big-brain-boskops-2008.html

Re:As always... Wikipedia provides some sanity (1)

smolloy (1250188) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605484)

Posting to get rid of unintentional "funny" moderation.

Re:As always... Wikipedia provides some sanity (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605492)

Friends don't let Friends cite Wikipedia.

Nine out of Ten professors give automatic F's to students who cite Wikipedia in their papers.

Re:As always... Wikipedia provides some sanity (2, Interesting)

rainmaestro (996549) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605612)

Nine out of Ten professors give automatic F's to students who cite Wikipedia in their papers.

[Citation needed]

Had to do it. For large projects, most professors I've had were fine with citing Wikipedia, provided you did not cite it as a *primary* source. It is usually safe to cite as a tertiary source (the same way you'd cite an encyclopedia in any decent paper), or as a secondary source depending on the professor.

Re:As always... Wikipedia provides some sanity (1)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605628)

I wasn't aware that the only way to inform someone was to cite peer reviewed sources.

What if (1)

madcat2c (1292296) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605234)

What if they were just goofy looking people? Gheez....

The Size of the Frontal Region is One Factor (3, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605242)

If I recall my Carl Sagan reading, Broca's Region is very important to our intellectual prowess among the animal kingdom. But from reading this summary it would seem that a blue whale would be the most intelligent thing ever. But it's not and that's because things like the proteins that make up our neurons, the spacing of the synapses, the quality of the electric shielding (white matter), etc are also important to defining our brain functions above that of an animal with comparable brain size.

I'm in now way a biologist but it is odd to me that they would suggest this metric for intelligence unless they can also prove that they are recent enough in our history that the above factors I mentioned have to be close or match our own that we know a lot about. I don't think that's a safe speculation though.

I would also like to point out the nature versus nurture paradigm in how a brain develops which will show you that in our idea of what an IQ test is, parental nurturing can sometimes have just as large if not more important result than our genetic make up.

Re:The Size of the Frontal Region is One Factor (3, Interesting)

Duncan J Murray (1678632) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605330)

You're right - size isn't everything (there are plenty of examples of less intelligent, larger brained animals).

Broca's and Wernicke's areas are parts of the brain for constructing and understanding language, respectively. This part of the brain is a unique part of the homo sapiens, and is why our brains our asymmetric (broca's and wernicke's is almost always on the left side of your brain). It is believed that the crucial genetic mutation that allowed for this asymmetry, also allowed for us to suffer from schizophrenia, which is believed to be due to a malfunctioning of correctly labelling thoughts versus speech versus what is heard.

But back to the point - human intelligence is, as you say, a lot to do with nuture, but this in turn is dependant on our 'nature' (language).

Then again, I've also head that the most intelligent are a particular shade of blue followed by mice, and then dolphins....

who rules now? (1)

memnock (466995) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605246)

some might say that the brutes are still in power.

proof of advanced civilization in the past (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605254)

We only know our history back 5000 years, humans have been around for a 2,000,000 . Homo Sapiens for at least 200,000.
and there is lots of evidence around the world for advanced civilizations in the past that did things we can't even begin to phanthom with our 'modern' technology. Of course, you are not going to find that in the mainstream media. Just as you will not find anything of relvance there.

So let's see, what is more probable. Smart people from prehistoric past faded away because they were "Lacking the external hard drive of a literate society", or we don't have any understanding or mainstream knowledge about very advance but different civilizations of the distant past?
Talking about "Lacking the external hard drive of a literate society", the current society is anything but litterate :).

Maybe Avatar is no that far form reality after all...

Re:proof of advanced civilization in the past (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605600)

You know where else you wont find it? In your post. Put up or shut up.

So we came with "literate society" pre-installed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605258)

Maybe intelligence can't reliably be measured by weight?

Re:So we came with "literate society" pre-installe (2, Funny)

ilikejam (762039) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605364)

Yo momma's so smart...

Re:So we came with "literate society" pre-installe (1)

Ipeunipig (934414) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605584)

If that is the case, then Americans are the most intelligent people on the planet.

Big Brain == Smarter Brain? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605264)

I am no neuroscientist, but since when is intelligence directly related to the size of the brain? There are many animals with brains much larger than a human's, but we're undoubtedly smarter than they are (or at least have greater opportunity to demonstrate our intelligence). Maybe I'm missing something though, like inconsistencies of the brain-size/intelligence ratio between species.

Craniometry and intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605266)

It is well know that the size of the brain little to do with IQ. Like that other organ its not the size that matters. Its how you use it.

150 IQ? extinct? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605268)

I'm not dead yet!

Re:150 IQ? extinct? (1)

Delkster (820935) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605564)

But if you have no life, does that mean you can be considered extinct?

There goes the neighborhood (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605270)

They noticed all of us dummies moving in so they invented space travel or dimensional shifting and moved away...

Re:There goes the neighborhood (1)

semargofni (1476489) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605470)

Or maybe they just ascended.

Reproductive instinct, not brains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605286)

Isn't the law the same even today?

The higher IQ (*geeky*) individuals are in general more awkward towards the opposite sex. Simple, no sex, no offspring.

Mis-use of 'IQ' .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605288)

A population with a brain size twice the size of the 'Boskops' would have an average I.Q. of:
100.

Were some disaster to occur in our civilization that resulted in the total loss of all individuals
with an I.Q. of 100 or higher, the resulting I.Q. of the population would be:
100.

tkjtkj@gmail.com

Or misuse of 'population'? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605482)

A population with a brain size twice the size of the 'Boskops' would have an average I.Q. of:
100.

I think the article interpreted IQ with respect to a hypothetical population including the 'Boskops' and all 6.odd billion modern humans. What would the average IQ of the 'Boskops' be among such a population?

We know how things go in our Idiocracy (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605298)

The smarter people will invariably be the minority overridden by the less smart masses for a variety of reasons in a variety of ways. One only has to look at the dark ages to see that in action. And every time we see politics manipulate science we see more of the same.

If 10,000 years ago a bunch of rock throwers witnessed the "magic" of these smarter people, they too might have believed they were evil or a threat to be destroyed.

With all that said, the premise of the discussion is completely guess-work. Big brain doesn't mean big mind.

Re:We know how things go in our Idiocracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605534)

If that's the case, then Darwinism is wrong.

Not everything is used for abstract thought (4, Interesting)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605306)

I had read that around the time Man domesticated dogs, the size of their brains changed.

The theory being that since we always had dogs with us, we didn't need large parts of the brain dedicated to smell anymore.

The Devil's Dictionary had it right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605312)

Dullard - n. a member of the reigning dynasty. The Dullards came in with Adam and being both numerous and sturdy have overrun the habitable world. The secret of their power liies in their insensibility. They are immune to blows physical and metaphorical. They originate from Breotia whence they were driven by starvation, having bored their livestock out of existence. For some centuries they infested Philistia, and many of them are still referred to as Phiistines. After the Crusades they spread across Europe occupying high places in politics, art, literature, science, theology, commerce, and finance. There was a contingent aboard the Mayflower and many more have immigrated since. Their numbers in the United States today are considered to be in excess of one hundred fifty million. Their intellectual center and mecca is Wheeless Oklahoma.

What the FUCK (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605316)

With 30 percent larger brains than ours now, we can readily calculate that a population with a mean brain size of 1,750 cc would be expected to have an average IQ of 149

That is wrong on so many different levels.

Re:What the FUCK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605386)

A blue whale's brain is 6 kg compared to our 1.4 kg according to this [youramazingbrain.org] site. I wonder what their average IQ is.

Apples? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605318)

Boskop is the german name for a specific sort of apples. :-)

I knew it. Apples do have a brain.

http://lepetitcadeau.typepad.com/.a/6a010535cfb36d970b0120a5de6516970b-800wi
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3573/3323907067_8113d65bc5.jpg

harhar

This is really old news (4, Interesting)

jimbobborg (128330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605320)

The skull was found in the early 1900s. There's been speculation about them for years. And NOW Discovery is writing about them? I think the better story to link to is about the giant snake they just found in a mine in South America. 40+ feet long, weighing in at over a ton, lived about 60 Million years ago, indicating that the temperature was significantly higher than it is now in the Equatorial Rain Forest.

Nerds vs. Jocks (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605332)

humans with big brains... they eventually gave way to smaller-brained, possibly less advanced Homo sapiens

A triumph of wedgies and swirlies paving the way for the modern day high school.

So does that mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605338)

all of the swoll-belly waterheads with the flies buzzing around them that Sally Struthers used to cry about are also geniuses? Dirt farmers who poop in their drinking water? I think not.

Brain size and birth (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605342)

Homo Sapiens' brains are as large as they can get without being a significant disadvantage. The large cranial size causes problems in birth, reducing the number of individuals that survive the process and reduces the reproduction rate. A hominid with a larger brain size but not major other physiological changes would reproduce even more slowly and would be easy to kill off as a species, even if the adults males were harder to kill individually (the adult females would die in childbirth a lot more frequently than their smaller-skulled equivalents).

If, on the other hand, the rest of his skeleton was proportionally larger, then this would not have been a problem. He would have been stronger, but possibly less able agile, and would have required more food. In times of relative food shortage, the smaller-skeletoned variant would have had an evolutionary advantage. He would be able to keep his muscle mass sufficient to move around quickly on a much more limited diet.

There is quite a bit of evidence that skull sizes have been shrinking over the last few thousand years, but there's no evidence that this correlates with reduced mental ability. Humans are far from having the largest brains of any modern mammals (whales win that one by a long way). You can't jump straight from brain size to IQ, you need to also look at how the brain is divided. Dogs, for example, have a huge amount of their brain devoted to controlling their noses. Dolphins have about as much brain tissue just devoted to turning sonar returns into a coherent picture of their environment as humans have in total. It's possible that a hominid with a 50% larger brain had an average IQ of 150, but it's also possible that it had an average IQ of 200 or of 50. It's impossible to tell just from the skull.

Re:Brain size and birth (1)

WRX SKy (1118003) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605502)

Wish I had mod points for the parent - this is 100% correct. I took an course on evolution in college just for fun and we had a guest lecture from someone who had spent their professional life researching this. While larger brain/skull sizes do provide advantages AFTER birth, at a certain point they decrease the possibility of actually being born. Thus negating any benefit of sizes over x cc's (where x is something close to our current size). Evolution at it's finest, nature found the equilibrium.

Re:Brain size and birth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605552)

Computers used to take up entire floors on building and now we have more processing power in our laptops and cellphones. Size != efficiency.

theory of evolution.. (3, Interesting)

martin (1336) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605352)

is that those who adapt quickest to a changing environment survive (not the biggest, quickest or strongest). maybe thats what happened the Boskops couldn't adapt.

Re:theory of evolution.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605578)

or maybe they did by building spaceships and flying away to more hospitable planets..

Re:theory of evolution.. (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605670)

Maybe they're still here.

That would explain the Illuminati, 9/11, George Bush's second term as president... yep, they're still here all right.

Selection bias and old news (5, Informative)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605370)

I'll just quote an actual anthropologist [johnhawks.net] about this "discovery".

in fact, what happened is that a small set of large crania were taken from a much larger sample of varied crania, and given the name, "Boskopoid." This selection was initially done almost without any regard for archaeological or cultural associations -- any old, large skull was a "Boskop". Later, when a more systematic inventory of archaeological associations was entered into evidence, it became clear that the "Boskop race" was entirely a figment of anthropologists' imaginations. Instead, the MSA-to-LSA population of South Africa had a varied array of features, within the last 20,000 years trending toward those present in historic southern African peoples. Singer ends his paper thusly:

It is now obvious that what was justifiable speculation (because of paucity of data) in 1923, and was apparent as speculation in 1947, is inexcusable to maintain in 1958.

That is pretty much where matters have stood ever since. "Boskopoid" is used only in this historical sense; it is has not been an active unit of analysis since the 1950's. By 1963, Brothwell could claim that Boskop itself was nothing more than a large skull of Khoisan type, leaving the concept of a "Boskop race" far behind.

So there you have it. There wasn't an extinct hominid with an IQ of 150, it was just the fallacy of selection bias exhibited by some anthropologists more than 70 years ago.

Size doesn't matter... when it comes to brains. (2, Interesting)

orsty3001 (1377575) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605388)

http://www.scientificblogging.com/mark_changizi/why_doesn%E2%80%99t_size_matter%E2%80%A6_brain [scientificblogging.com] This has been proven over and over that size doesn't relate to smarts. An elephant's brain is just over 3 times larger than ours and yet I didn't see any elephants walk on the moon or develop great civilizations.

Re:Size doesn't matter... when it comes to brains. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605638)

An elephant's brain is just over 3 times larger than ours and yet I didn't see any elephants walk on the moon or develop great civilizations.

Have you even BEEN three miles underground?!

Everyone knows that the elephant cities are underground, of course you haven't seen them...

And before you dismiss the possibility of elephants on the moon... all I have to say is, "Cloaks of Invisibility" and "Cloaking Devices".

Just because YOU haven't observed it doesn't mean it isn't true.

so we found the Ancients now where is the stargate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605394)

so we found the Ancients now where is the stargate?

May be they had TV? (1)

mimiru (1130095) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605408)

I knew TV was not a new technology

Re:May be they had TV? (1)

Delkster (820935) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605626)

What use would they have for such a large brain just watcing TV? Or are you suggesting TV is the reason they went extinct?

Linked article (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605424)

Oh my goodness, what a surprise... The linked article on SA was one for a question that I had submitted 10 years ago to "Ask the Experts"!!

Typical Evolutionary muddle (3, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605432)

Assume the hypothesis is true.

Those big brains would not have evolved without an evolutionary advantage of some sort, lack of literary hard drives or no. Now, their relative fitness against homo sapiens is another matter - that could depend on things like population size, climate change, and the accidents of history. ("The race is not always to the swift" and all that.)

I bet that, if this is true, someone starts looking for these genes in the current human population. They should be able to get some DNA from those 10,000 year old bones to compare against.

Can't be that Intelligent (1)

SirAstral (1349985) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605440)

They did after all become extinct. How smart can a species be to let that happen? But then again, intelligence and smart are not necessarily equal. There is more than one specific type of intelligence if you will.

Some people have excellent abilities to retain knowledge (photographic Memory) yet consistently prove that they are not able to properly utilize that knowledge in any meaningful way. Some people can't seem to remember anything, but if you place them in front of a puzzle they will figure it out in record time. And then there are autistic people that really stand as shining examples of extreme intelligent yet that intelligence is primarily focused in one direction like Math (Rain Man) or a particular art skill like Music where they can hear a song once and accurately reproduce it without need for sheet music, guides, or assistance.

Smart people are generally able to effectively utilize Intelligence, and being smart is more adaptively valuable than being extremely intelligent.

Sleestack (2)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605444)

It was probably just a Sleestack. They failed because they only used logic and couldn't talk plain.

Misunderstanding evolution (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605458)

Evolution says the species that adapt to change easier than others will survive. Sometimes it is being bigger or being smarter that gives a species an advantage over another. But not necessarily one or the other. A larger brain may mean that a species has the potential to be smarter but it comes with a cost. A larger brain also means more energy requirements. It also may mean a longer time to develop (longer childhood).

If the environment changes and food becomes scarce, a larger brain might be a disadvantage if having more smarts does not lead to more food.

And yet, I can not help but think about ... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605480)

The dolphins. They were assumed to be similar IQ to man, until they figured out that they have 6x the glial cells that man does. So what it comes down to is that size != IQ.

Bang Theory (2, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605514)

Can you imagine a civilization with only Sheldon Coopers? Is the kind of things that ends with a big bang.

The explanation is on a bumper sticker (2, Funny)

david.emery (127135) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605542)

"My kid beat up your honors student"

dave (who was usually on the receiving side of such efforts...)

Civilization changes the meaning of "fittest" (1)

srobert (4099) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605560)

Once we started reading, writing, living in cities, etc., it was all downhill.

Aliens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30605660)

What if they didn't really go extinct? What if they really are the "aliens" we keep hearing about? Cue the "time machine" storyline.

Maybe they built the Pyramids (1)

sankalp (201904) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605672)

Maybe they built the Pyramids and took off to another planet, leaving inferior creatures like us behind

Bit processing is not intelligence (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605680)

Even in the pre-frontal cortex. "Intelligence" can get fairly specialized. They may have been savant-like geniuses at ad-hoc weather prediction, predator evasion tactics and great outdoor barbecue. It doesn't mean they would have made good mathematicians, software developers or doctors.

Size is everything (women) (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 3 years ago | (#30605684)

Unfortunately for Boskops, he may have had a 150 IQ, but only had a little dick. So chicks dumped Boskops for neathanderthal, who was not only bigger and stronger, but better in bed. Thus, the old adage is proven. Darwin was a sexist - women really are to blame for everything.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>