The world’s oldest known monkey skull might just be writing off the prevailing concepts in brain evolution. The recent revelation is that old world monkeys might have had tiny, yet complex brains, contradicting the belief that primates brain enlarged to get complex later.
The revelation comes as part of findings of a research led by Fred Spoor of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Lauren Gonzales of Duke University, who were involved with the recreation of ancient monkey brain using Micro CT scans.
Images were obtained by means of high-resolution X-Ray imaging using the oldest known ancient monkey skull, the one that was discovered in 1997.
The skull, which is believed to be of the Victoriapithecus species, was found from an island in Kenya’s Lake Victoria, and is believed to be about 15 million years old.
Closer analysis of the CT scans implied that these creatures had tiny brains, which were much complex than the ones in present-day monkeys. These were found to be only half the size of monkeys today, spreading out to a volume of nearly 36 cubic centimeters.
Wrinkles and folds were present in high numbers, and the olfactory bulb was also found to be three times larger than what was expected, leading to the belief that ancient monkeys possessed high skills with smell sensing than the higher mammals of today.
What the new discovery brings out is the possibility that primate brains evolved differently than what’s assumed today. The prevailing theory suggest that primate brain evolved larger with size first, later developing the folds and wrinkles.
However, the new discovery implies that primate brains have developed the wrinkles and folds even before starting its expansion in size.