Human Evolution

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 205–216 | Cite as

Cranial capacity in hominid evolution

  • R. Stanyon
  • S. Consigliere
  • M. A. Morescalchi


We present an analysis of cranial capacity of 118 hominid crania available from the literature. The crania belong to both the genusAustralopithecus andHomo and provide a clear outline of hominid cranial evolution starting at more than 3 million years ago. Beginning withA. afarensis there is a clear increase in both absolute and relative brain size with every successive time period.H.s. neandertal has an absolutely and relatively smaller brain size (1412cc, E.Q.=5.6) than fossil modernH.s. sapiens (1487cc, E.Q.=5.9). Three evolutionary models of hominid brain evolution were tested: gradualism, punctuated equilibrium, and a mixed model using both gradualism and punctuated equilibrium. Both parametric and non-parametric analyses show a clear trend toward increasing brain size withH. erectus and a possible relationship within archaicH. sapiens. An evolutionary stasis in cranial capacity could not be refuted for all other taxa. Consequently, the mixed model appears to more fully explain hominid cranial capacity evolution. However, taxonomic decisions could directly compromise the possibility of testing the evolutionary mechanisms hypothesized to be operating in hominid brain expansion.

Key words

Brain size Encephalization Quotient gradualism punctuated equilibrium taxonomy 


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Copyright information

© International Institute for the Study of Man 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Stanyon
    • 1
  • S. Consigliere
    • 1
  • M. A. Morescalchi
    • 2
  1. 1.Istituto di Antropologia fisicaUniversità di GenovaGenovaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Biologia AnimaleUniversità di TorinoTorinoItaly

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