The evolution of brain size and intelligence in man

Abstract

The brain size of hominids has increased approximately threefold during the evolution of the hominids fromAustralopithecus toHomo sapiens. It is proposed that the principal reason for this increase is that larger brains conferred greater intelligence, and greater intelligence conferred a selection advantage.

A number of anthropologists have difficulty accepting this thesis because they believe that brain size is not associated with intelligence in man. Evidence is reviewed, and new evidence from two studies is presented, to show that brain size as measured by head size is positively correlated with intelligence as measured by intelligence tests. On two recent samples statistically significant correlations of .21 and .30 were obtained between estimates of brain size and IQ. It is considered that brain size is positively associated with intelligence in man and that this is the major reason for the increase in brain size of the hominids during the last 3.2 million years.

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Lynn, R. The evolution of brain size and intelligence in man. Hum. Evol. 5, 241–244 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02437240

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Key words

  • brain size
  • intelligence
  • hominid evolution