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Thread: Large Brained Human Race from SA

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    Large Brained Human Race from SA

    In the autumn of 1913, two farmers were arguing about hominid skull fragments they had uncovered while digging a drainage ditch. The location was Boskop, a small town about 200 miles inland from the east coast of South Africa.

    These Afrikaner farmers, to their lasting credit, had the presence of mind to notice that there was something distinctly odd about the bones. They brought the find to Frederick W. Fitz*Simons, director of the Port Elizabeth Museum, in a small town at the tip of South Africa. The scientific community of South Africa was small, and before long the skull came to the attention of S. H. Haughton, one of the country’s few formally trained paleontologists. He reported his findings at a 1915 meeting of the Royal Society of South Africa. “The cranial capacity must have been very large,” he said, and “calculation by the method of Broca gives a minimum figure of 1,832 cc [cubic centimeters].” The Boskop skull, it would seem, housed a brain perhaps 25 percent or more larger than our own.

    The idea that giant-brained people were not so long ago walking the dusty plains of South Africa was sufficiently shocking to draw in the luminaries back in England. Two of the most prominent anatomists of the day, both experts in the reconstruction of skulls, weighed in with opinions generally supportive of Haughton’s conclusions.




    The Scottish scientist Robert Broom reported that “we get for the corrected cranial capacity of the Boskop skull the very remarkable figure of 1,980 cc.” Remarkable indeed: These measures say that the distance from Boskop to humans is greater than the distance between humans and their Homo erectus predecessors.

    Might the very large Boskop skull be an aberration? Might it have been caused by hydrocephalus or some other disease? These questions were quickly preempted by new discoveries of more of these skulls.

    As if the Boskop story were not already strange enough, the accumulation of additional remains revealed another bizarre feature: These people had small, childlike faces. Physical anthropologists use the term pedomorphosis to describe the retention of juvenile features into adulthood. This phenomenon is sometimes used to explain rapid evolutionary changes. For example, certain amphibians retain fishlike gills even when fully mature and past their water-inhabiting period. Humans are said by some to be pedomorphic compared with other primates.Our facial structure bears some resemblance to that of an immature ape. Boskop’s appearance may be described in terms of this trait. A typical current European adult, for instance, has a face that takes up roughly one-third of his overall cranium size. Boskop has a face that takes up only about one-fifth of his cranium size, closer to the proportions of a child. Examination of individual bones confirmed that the nose, cheeks, and jaw were all childlike.

    The combination of a large cranium and immature face would look decidedly unusual to modern eyes, but not entirely unfamiliar. Such faces peer out from the covers of countless science fiction books and are often attached to “alien abductors” in movies. The naturalist Loren Eiseley made exactly this point in a lyrical and chilling passage from his popular book, The Immense Journey, describing a Boskop fossil:

    “There’s just one thing we haven’t quite dared to mention. It’s this, and you won’t believe it. It’s all happened already. Back there in the past, ten thousand years ago. The man of the future, with the big brain, the small teeth. He lived in Africa. His brain was bigger than your brain. His face was straight and small, almost a child’s face.”

    Boskops, then, were much talked and written about, by many of the most prominent figures in the fields of paleontology and anthropology.

    Yet today, although Neanderthals and Homo erectus are widely known, Boskops are almost entirely forgotten. Some of our ancestors are clearly inferior to us, with smaller brains and apelike countenances. They’re easy to make fun of and easy to accept as our precursors. In contrast, the very fact of an ancient ancestor like Boskop, who appears un-apelike and in fact in most ways seems to have had characteristics superior to ours, was destined never to be popular.

    http://http://discovermagazine.com/2...tart:int=1&-C=

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    Hydrocephalic Khoisan specimens, probably

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    Alien-human hybrids. I knew it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silent_Saxon View Post
    Alien-human hybrids. I knew it.
    Aryan supermen that migrated from an Antarctic Hyperborean world.


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    Senior Member AuroraNordalis's Avatar
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    re:

    Are the heads larger overall in proportion the rest of the body? If no, then the blacks can't claim these as their smart ancestors and that it's the Whitemans fault that they devolved into the negro we see today.

    Seriously, there has been allot of unusual remains found that were said to be the foundation of modern humans. There as been allot of different races/sub-races that have come and gone too.

    Who knows, one day if things keep going the way they are in this world some Asian 10,000yrs from now will dig up a Caucasian mans skull and nobody will believe the remarkable tales of an elite beautifully pigmented race that once ruled the world.
    Last edited by AuroraNordalis; Thursday, August 18th, 2011 at 07:25 AM. Reason: sp.

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    Why did they become extinct? With their big brains maybe they were aware of things which we humans are not.

    Did it perhaps seem apparent to them that existence was just an accident of mathematics devoid of any higher meaning? Did they therefor decide as a group to end history before it began?

    Whatever the case. I'd like to see a few Boskops brought back through genetic engineering.It might really piss them off.





    Someone said it might be hydrocephaly. Hydrocephalic skulls tend to be irregularly shaped the Boskops are not.
    Close observation may result in feelings of horror, wonder and awe at world you find yourself inhabiting.

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    It turns out the "Boskop race" never existed. The idea that it did exist came about due to a misinterpretation because of the small sample size of the original specimens.

    The first few skull specimens were found in the early 20th century belonged to large males, which led to the claim of an extinct "large brained" race being discovered in South Africa. Since then more and more skulls of normal size have been discovered and with them the so called "Boskop Race" has been shown to be nothing more than a sampling anomaly.

    The "amazing" Boskops
    Sun, 2008-03-30 11:26 -- John Hawks
    I've gotten a couple of e-mail questions from readers about this new book, Big Brain: The Origins and Future of Human Intelligence. The authors are Gary Lynch and Richard Granger.
    Both Lynch and Granger are experts in neuroscience, with a long list of publications on memory, cortical organization, and chemical regulation of brain activity. Neither of them is an anthropologist or archaeologist.
    So I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see what appears to be complete lunacy in the book description:
    Our big brains, our language ability, and our intelligence make us uniquely human. But barely 10,000 years ago--a mere blip in evolutionary time--human-like creatures called "Boskops" flourished in South Africa. They possessed extraordinary features: forebrains roughly 50% larger than ours, and estimated IQs to match--far surpassing our own. Many of these huge fossil skulls have been discovered over the last century, but most of us have never heard of this scientific marvel. Prominent neuroscientists Gary Lynch and Richard Granger compare the contents of the Boskop brain and our own brains today, and arrive at startling conclusions about our intelligence and creativity. Connecting cutting-edge theories of genetics, evolution, language, memory, learning, and intelligence, Lynch and Granger show the implications of large brains on a broad array of fields, from the current state of the art in Alzheimer's and other brain disorders, to new advances in brain-based robots that see and converse with us, and the means by which neural prosthetics-- replacement parts for the brain--are being designed and tested. The authors demystify the complexities of our brains in this fascinating and accessible book, and give us tantalizing insights into our humanity--its past, and its future.
    Now, I haven't read the book, and this is not a review. I think a book that puts together the state of the art in neuroscience and tries to relate that to many aspects of human evolution would be a great book. Maybe this book has some of that stuff in it.
    But it seems pretty evident from the description that there has been a major misfire. If the description of the book is accurate then they have the evolutionary biology almost entirely wrong. I assume the description is at least in the ballpark, since it is the publisher's description, and it's borne out by this Discover magazine review:
    Judging from fossil remains, scientists say the Boskops were similar to modern humans but had small, childlike faces and huge melon heads that held brains about 30 percent larger than our own.
    That's what fascinates psychiatrist Gary Lynch and cognitive scientist Richard Granger. "Just as we're smarter than apes, they were probably smarter than us," they speculate. More insightful and self-reflective than modern humans, with fantastic memories and a penchant for dreaming, the Boskops may have had "an internal mental life literally beyond anything we can imagine."
    OK, that's a pretty surprising story: an ancient race with unique mental endowments, living in an exotic part of the world. It sounds uncannily like the Atlantis myth. What is the reality here?
    First, if you do a simple Google Scholar search for "Boskop", you will discover that this has not been a going topic in human evolution for nearly fifty years. Most intellectual effort on the topic of "Boskopoids" happened between 1915 and 1930. I want to emphasize how easy it is to discover these things by a simple Google search. This is obscure knowledge, but for a good reason -- it's obsolete and has been for fifty years!
    The supposed "Boskop race" was named after a South African skull -- consisting of frontal and parietal bones, with a partial occiput, one temporal and a fragment of mandible -- found on a Transvaal farm in 1913. The skull is a large one, with an estimated endocranial volume of 1800 ml. But it is hardly complete, and arguments about its overall size -- exacerbated by its thickness, which confuses estimates based on regression from external measurements -- have ranged from 1700 to 2000 ml. It is large, but well within the range of sizes found in recent males.
    Robert Broom named the skull Homo capensis, emphasizing its differences from recent peoples of the region, and proposing a close relationship with European Cro-Magnons. Other remains found later were also attributed to this "type," and so the "Boskop race" became a category of paleoanthropology. Few people know that before Raymond Dart made his name by analyzing and reporting on the Taung skull, he had written in to Nature with a description of "Boskopoid" crania (Dart 1923).
    But this concept of a "Boskop race" did not emerge from any clear understanding of the South African past. In fact, MSA, LSA, and recent archaeological-associated remains were lumped indiscriminately into the category. What provoked the racial category was a confusion about the relationships of recent and historical southern African remains. Anthropologists had attempted to apply primary racial categories such as "Negroid," "Bushman," "Hottentot" and "Strandloper," corresponding to extant or recent tribes or other groups. But the distinctions between these categories did not appear to extend far into the prehistoric past. So anthropologists looked for the origins of these racial types within the sample of prehistoric crania -- constructing a "Boskopoid" type for those with later "Bush" or "Strandloper" resemblances.
    This category became untenable as further information about the archaeology of South Africa came to light. Ronald Singer (1958) reviewed the "Boskop race" evidence as it existed by the 1950's. He concluded that there was no reason to maintain that any "big-headed, small-faced group" had existed in prehistory, separate from the current biological variability of "Bushman, Hottentot and Negro." But that view is unsupportable -- in fact, what happened is that a small set of large crania were taken from a much larger sample of varied crania, and given the name, "Boskopoid." This selection was initially done almost without any regard for archaeological or cultural associations -- any old, large skull was a "Boskop". Later, when a more systematic inventory of archaeological associations was entered into evidence, it became clear that the "Boskop race" was entirely a figment of anthropologists' imaginations. Instead, the MSA-to-LSA population of South Africa had a varied array of features, within the last 20,000 years trending toward those present in historic southern African peoples. Singer ends his paper thusly:
    It is now obvious that what was justifiable speculation (because of paucity of data) in 1923, and was apparent as speculation in 1947, is inexcusable to maintain in 1958.

    That is pretty much where matters have stood ever since. "Boskopoid" is used only in this historical sense; it is has not been an active unit of analysis since the 1950's. By 1963, Brothwell could claim that Boskop itself was nothing more than a large skull of Khoisan type, leaving the concept of a "Boskop race" far behind.
    Today, skeletal remains from South African LSA are generally believed to be ancestral to historic peoples in the region, including the Khoikhoi and San. The ancient people did not mysteriously disappear: they are still with us! The artistic legacy of the ancient peoples, clearly evidenced in rock art, is impressive but no more so than that of the European Upper Paleolithic or that of indigenous Australians.
    And their brains were not all that big. Boskop itself is a large skull, but it is a clear standout in the sample of ancient South African crania; other males range from 1350 to 1600 ml (these are documented by Henneberg and Steyn 1993). That is around the same as Upper Paleolithic Europeans and pre-Neolithic Chinese. LSA South Africans fit in with their contemporaries around the world.
    To be sure, there has been a reduction in the average brain size in South Africa during the last 10,000 years, and there have been parallel reductions in Europe and China -- pretty much everywhere we have decent samples of skeletons, it looks like brains have been shrinking. This is something I've done quite a bit of research on, and will continue to do so, because it's interesting. But it is hardly a sign that ancient humans had mysterious mental powers -- it is probably a matter of energetic efficiency (brains are expensive), developmental time (brains take a long time to mature) and diet (brains require high protein and fat consumption, less and less available to Holocene populations).
    So, how did this idea of ancient Boskops make it into a book by two neuroscientists in 2008?
    If not through science, then possibly from science fiction. The "Boskop race" was immortalized in popular writing by Loren Eiseley, who included an essay on Boskop Man in his collection, The Immense Journey, first published in 1958. As you can see, by this time the entire concept of a "Boskop race" had fallen into scientific disrepute. But Eiseley was undeterred: he conjured the idea that the Boskopoids were advanced in their large brains and small faces -- the apex of a trend toward paedomorphism, the retention of juvenile characteristics. In this state, they resembled what Eiseley suggested would be the "Future Man".

    I hate to think that the theme of a 2008 book was pulled straight from a 1958 essay, but I don't know where else they would have gotten the idea. No anthropologists have written much about the so-called "Boskopoids" since 1958. There is no such thing as an "IQ estimate" for a fossil human; that's entirely nonsensical. There's no question that there have been massive cultural changes in the last 10,000 years. But the idea that our brains' functions have atrophied from some Pleistocene state has been left long behind in the dust of nineteenth-century race studies.

    Source.
    Close observation may result in feelings of horror, wonder and awe at world you find yourself inhabiting.

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    Senior Member Catterick's Avatar
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    Carleton Coon continued to use the word Boskop typologically to describe "full-sized Bushmen" on the line to living Capoids.

    The decrease of human brain size since the Pleistocene is why I'm half-skeptical of HBD claims about IQ. IQ (correctly the G factor) is a useful predictor but one number can't summarise all intelligence. Given brain size is proved connected to IQ there must have been a Holocene reduction in intelligence somehow even as new domain-specific mental skills evolved during that same ten thousand years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catterick View Post
    Given brain size is proved connected to IQ there must have been a Holocene reduction in intelligence somehow even as new domain-specific mental skills evolved during that same ten thousand years.
    Maybe, maybe not. There is only a 1/3 correlation between brain size and IQ. Meaning that if someone's brain is 3% larger than someone else's they are on average only 1% more intelligent as measured by IQ. And that is when comparing modern humans against other modern humans.

    It is completely possible that modern humans lost brain mass in say the visual, auditory or olfactory centers of the brain, when they moved from hunting and gathering to farming yet retained everything needed to do well on an IQ test.

    Different parts of the brain are more important for IQ than others. The Frontal lobes in particular are important in reasoning and plotting.


    The largest human brain that has ever existed was that of the Neanderthal, yet from what we know of their culture they appear to have been extremely conservative and slow to innovate. They continued to use the same flint blade design for about half a million years and never developed ranged weapons. They make even Australian aboriginal culture appear technologically dynamic by comparison.

    The modern people who are the closest to our hunter gatherer ancestors would be the worlds various aboriginal groups yet they don't do particularly well on IQ tests. Certainly not better than western Europeans.
    Close observation may result in feelings of horror, wonder and awe at world you find yourself inhabiting.

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    Senior Member Catterick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Horned God View Post
    The modern people who are the closest to our hunter gatherer ancestors would be the worlds various aboriginal groups yet they don't do particularly well on IQ tests. Certainly not better than western Europeans.
    But how do modern "primitive" populations compare with their own Pleistocene ancestors?

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