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The evolution of mammalian brain size

Smaers, JB; Rothman, RS; Hudson, DR; Balanoff, AM; Beatty, B; Dechmann, DKN; de Vries, D; ... Safi, K; + view all (2021) The evolution of mammalian brain size. Science Advances , 7 (18) , Article eabe2101. 10.1126/sciadv.abe2101. Green open access

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Relative brain size has long been considered a reflection of cognitive capacities and has played a fundamental role in developing core theories in the life sciences. Yet, the notion that relative brain size validly represents selection on brain size relies on the untested assumptions that brain-body allometry is restrained to a stable scaling relationship across species and that any deviation from this slope is due to selection on brain size. Using the largest fossil and extant dataset yet assembled, we find that shifts in allometric slope underpin major transitions in mammalian evolution and are often primarily characterized by marked changes in body size. Our results reveal that the largest-brained mammals achieved large relative brain sizes by highly divergent paths. These findings prompt a reevaluation of the traditional paradigm of relative brain size and open new opportunities to improve our understanding of the genetic and developmental mechanisms that influence brain size.

Type: Article
Title: The evolution of mammalian brain size
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe2101
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abe2101
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC). https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10126937
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