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      Different environmental variables predict body and brain size evolution in Homo

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          Abstract

          Increasing body and brain size constitutes a key macro-evolutionary pattern in the hominin lineage, yet the mechanisms behind these changes remain debated. Hypothesized drivers include environmental, demographic, social, dietary, and technological factors. Here we test the influence of environmental factors on the evolution of body and brain size in the genus Homo over the last one million years using a large fossil dataset combined with global paleoclimatic reconstructions and formalized hypotheses tested in a quantitative statistical framework. We identify temperature as a major predictor of body size variation within Homo, in accordance with Bergmann’s rule. In contrast, net primary productivity of environments and long-term variability in precipitation correlate with brain size but explain low amounts of the observed variation. These associations are likely due to an indirect environmental influence on cognitive abilities and extinction probabilities. Most environmental factors that we test do not correspond with body and brain size evolution, pointing towards complex scenarios which underlie the evolution of key biological characteristics in later Homo.

          Abstract

          Increasing body and brain size constitutes a key pattern in human evolution, but the mechanisms driving these changes remain debated. Using a large fossil dataset combined with global paleoclimatic reconstructions, the authors show that different environmental variables influenced the evolution of brain and body size in Homo.

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          Most cited references63

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          A new look at the statistical model identification

          IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, 19(6), 716-723
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            The Expensive-Tissue Hypothesis: The Brain and the Digestive System in Human and Primate Evolution

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              The extended evolutionary synthesis: its structure, assumptions and predictions.

              Scientific activities take place within the structured sets of ideas and assumptions that define a field and its practices. The conceptual framework of evolutionary biology emerged with the Modern Synthesis in the early twentieth century and has since expanded into a highly successful research program to explore the processes of diversification and adaptation. Nonetheless, the ability of that framework satisfactorily to accommodate the rapid advances in developmental biology, genomics and ecology has been questioned. We review some of these arguments, focusing on literatures (evo-devo, developmental plasticity, inclusive inheritance and niche construction) whose implications for evolution can be interpreted in two ways—one that preserves the internal structure of contemporary evolutionary theory and one that points towards an alternative conceptual framework. The latter, which we label the 'extended evolutionary synthesis' (EES), retains the fundaments of evolutionary theory, but differs in its emphasis on the role of constructive processes in development and evolution, and reciprocal portrayals of causation. In the EES, developmental processes, operating through developmental bias, inclusive inheritance and niche construction, share responsibility for the direction and rate of evolution, the origin of character variation and organism-environment complementarity. We spell out the structure, core assumptions and novel predictions of the EES, and show how it can be deployed to stimulate and advance research in those fields that study or use evolutionary biology.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                manuel.will@uni-tuebingen.de
                Journal
                Nat Commun
                Nat Commun
                Nature Communications
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2041-1723
                8 July 2021
                8 July 2021
                2021
                : 12
                : 4116
                Affiliations
                [1 ]GRID grid.10392.39, ISNI 0000 0001 2190 1447, Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology, , University of Tübingen, ; Tübingen, Germany
                [2 ]GRID grid.5335.0, ISNI 0000000121885934, Evolutionary Ecology Group, Department of Zoology, , University of Cambridge, ; Cambridge, UK
                [3 ]GRID grid.15638.39, GNS Science, ; Lower Hutt, New Zealand
                [4 ]GRID grid.39381.30, ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8884, Department of Anthropology, , Western University, ; London, ON Canada
                [5 ]GRID grid.469873.7, ISNI 0000 0004 4914 1197, Department of Archaeology, , Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, ; Jena, Germany
                Author information
                http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8116-2543
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2599-0683
                http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0147-8631
                http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1895-450X
                Article
                24290
                10.1038/s41467-021-24290-7
                8266824
                34238930
                599bea4c-ff89-489b-8757-ebdad188b6ed
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                History
                : 10 June 2020
                : 7 June 2021
                Funding
                Funded by: Antarctica New Zealand - ANTA1801
                Funded by: FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/100010661, EC | Horizon 2020 Framework Programme (EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation H2020);
                Award ID: ERC Consolidator 647797
                Award Recipient :
                Categories
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                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Uncategorized
                evolutionary ecology,biological anthropology,palaeontology
                Uncategorized
                evolutionary ecology, biological anthropology, palaeontology

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