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ZeroZero

Brain sizes and morphology in human ancestery studies

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In studies of ancient skeletons prior to say 500,000 years ago I often come across people talking about brain size as if it were clear indication of human development. Brain sizes in the human race vary enormously according to age and other criteria. My wife is very petite and has a smaller brain than I am of average height and have a very large hat size. 

Now I realise that we are talking about brain size relative to body size, and sometimes we have other bones to calculate body size, and I know that scientists can guesstimate the age of a skull from the plates of the skull and their fusion. However, surely in order to make statements about human development from periods where we have very little actual material (sometimes only enough to fill a shoe box), one would need more representative samples?

Are palaeontologists guilty of overstating the evidence?

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On 10/11/2018 at 6:00 PM, ZeroZero said:

Are palaeontologists guilty of overstating the evidence?

They might be, at times, but not a lot. If they do, it will get jumped on by their peers, and anyone else with an interest. That's how science generally works. Criticism is almost as important as original work. When you publish you are putting your reputation on the line. 

It might happen now and again, that the consensus is so overwhelming that critical thinking gets frowned on. I don't think there's any danger of that in Paleoanthropology. 

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