Cerebral complexity preceded enlarged brain size and reduced olfactory bulbs in Old World monkeys

Lauren A. Gonzales, Brenda R. Benefit, Monte L. McCrossin, Fred Spoor

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26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Analysis of the only complete early cercopithecoid (Old World monkey) endocast currently known, that of 15-million-year (Myr)-old Victoriapithecus, reveals an unexpectedly small endocranial volume (ECV) relative to body size and a large olfactory bulb volume relative to ECV, similar to extant lemurs and Oligocene anthropoids. However, the Victoriapithecus brain has principal and arcuate sulci of the frontal lobe not seen in the stem catarrhine Aegyptopithecus, as well as a distinctive cercopithecoid pattern of gyrification, indicating that cerebral complexity preceded encephalization in cercopithecoids. Since larger ECVs, expanded frontal lobes, and reduced olfactory bulbs are already present in the 17- to 18-Myr-old ape Proconsul these features evolved independently in hominoids (apes) and cercopithecoids and much earlier in the former. Moreover, the order of encephalization and brain reorganization was apparently different in hominoids and cercopithecoids, showing that brain size and cerebral organization evolve independently.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7580
JournalNature Communications
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2015

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