2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Social Science

Recent Findings in Human Altriciality: An Environmental and Evolutionary Approach
Lauren M. Filla
Dr. Amber Johnson, Faculty Mentor

Recent research analyzing the life history traits and the environments of living primates indicate that primate life history traits correlate better with environmental variables when rate of development is corrected for. The strong correlation between the environment and the neonatal brain weights of slow developing species prompted further study of the evolution of large human neonatal brains and altriciality. Altricial birth has significant implications for human cognitive and social abilities. Previous studies of human altriciality have focused on fossil measurements. This project used the adult and neonatal brain weights of living primate species to determine what the maximum human adult brain weight would be if humans were born fully developed. Applying these findings to extinct hominid species made it possible to predict when hominid brain sizes were too big to pass through the birth canal making altricial birth necessary. The results support that altricial development was scalar rather than emergent.

Keywords: altricial, primate, anthropology

Topic(s):Sociology/Anthropology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 16-3
Location: VH 1010
Time: 8:45 am

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