Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ahead of their time

Seems there was a race of super-geniuses. Discovered in South Africa in 1913, fossil skulls showed a brain capacity bigger than modern humans. Not only that, but:
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.
Why did they die out? Without more information, scientists can only speculate:
Perhaps, though, it also made the Boskops excessively internal and self-reflective. With their perhaps astonishing insights, they may have become a species of dreamers with an internal mental life literally beyond anything we can imagine.
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Perhaps the Boskops were trapped by their ability to see clearly where things would head. Perhaps they were prisoners of those majestic brains.
Wonder what they would say about life today?