The emergence of language in the hominin lineage : perspectives from fossil endocasts

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dc.contributor.author Beaudet, Amelie
dc.date.accessioned 2017-09-14T05:12:17Z
dc.date.available 2017-09-14T05:12:17Z
dc.date.issued 2017-08-23
dc.description.abstract Since brain does not fossilize, brain endocast (i.e., replica of the inner surface of the braincase, Figure ​Figure1)1) constitutes the only direct evidence for reconstructing hominin brain evolution (Holloway, 1978; Holloway et al., 2004a). In this context, paleoneurology has suffered from strong limitations due to the fragmentary nature of the fossil record and the absence of any information regarding subcortical elements in extinct taxa. Additionally, variation in brain shape and organization (and in the corresponding endocast) is technically difficult to capture, as stated by Bruner (2017a, p. 64): “[…] the smooth and blurred geometry of the brain, its complex and complicated mechanisms, and its noticeable individual variability make any research associated with its morphology very entangled and difficult to develop within fixed methodological approaches.” An emblematic example might be the reluctance of paleoneurologists to consider the sulcal imprints visible on the endocranial surface because of the substantial uncertainties in describing such features in fossil specimens and related debates (e.g., the lunate sulcus in the Taung child's endocast; Falk, 1980a, 2009, 2014; Holloway, 1981a; Holloway et al., 2004b). In 1987, Tobias even came to the conclusion that “The recognition of specific cerebral gyri and sulci from their impressions on an endocast is a taxing, often subjective and even invidious undertaking which arouses much argumentation” (p. 748). However, in conjunction with a conceptual shift toward a more comprehensive overview of hominin brain evolution (e.g., reconsideration of the “cerebral rubicon” characterizing the human brain, Falk, 1980b; Holloway, 1983), continuous discoveries of new fossil material and recent analytical developments are progressively improving and refining our knowledge about the human neural evolutionary history. In particular, paleoneurology is producing new evidence for reconstructing the timing and mode of the emergence of crucial functions, such as language. en_ZA
dc.description.department Anatomy en_ZA
dc.description.librarian am2017 en_ZA
dc.description.sponsorship The Claude Leon Foundation and the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences (CoE-Pal) en_ZA
dc.description.uri http://www.frontiersin.org/Human_Neuroscience en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Beaudet A (2017) The Emergence of Language in the Hominin Lineage: Perspectives from Fossil Endocasts. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 11:427. DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00427. en_ZA
dc.identifier.issn 1662-5161
dc.identifier.other 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00427
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2263/62254
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Frontiers Research Foundation en_ZA
dc.rights © 2017 Beaudet. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). en_ZA
dc.subject Paleoneurology en_ZA
dc.subject Endocasts en_ZA
dc.subject Australopithecus en_ZA
dc.subject Sulcal patterns en_ZA
dc.subject Broca’s area en_ZA
dc.subject Relative brain size en_ZA
dc.subject Humans en_ZA
dc.subject Hearing en_ZA
dc.subject Culture en_ZA
dc.subject Speech en_ZA
dc.subject Evolution en_ZA
dc.subject Lunate sulcus en_ZA
dc.subject Taung (Australopithecus africanus) en_ZA
dc.title The emergence of language in the hominin lineage : perspectives from fossil endocasts en_ZA
dc.type Article en_ZA


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