Chief Scientist: WU Xiujie
Brain evolution is one of the most important aspects of human evolution, and also is a point of much debate among evolutionary biologists. The direct evidence of the fossil hominid brain’s evolution comes from the endocranial casts (endocasts). Since most hominin fossils are incomplete, or filled with a heavy calcified matrix, it is difficult or often impossible to reconstruct the endocast in a real fossil without destroying it. High-resolution industrial CT and three-dimensional (3-D) laser scanning facilitate new methods to get the virtual brain endocasts of human fossils. Though its human fossils and endocasts are the best in the world, there has been a paucity of paleoneurological studies in China, lagging far behind other countries. Accordingly, the important information retained in the interior of the crania has not been studied. This project studies the brain morphology and evolution of Chinese fossil hominins using CT and 3-D laser scanning, and reconstruct the 3-D brain image and data of Chinses human fossils. Compared with the endocasts of the hominin fossils from Africa, Europe and other Asian regions, the team explores the physical characteristics of the Chinese human fossils. Combining the human remains, palaeontology, and paleoenvironment, the scientists analyze cognitive ability of Chinese ancient humans, and explore the relationship between the human brain and behavior. This study will establish a comprehensive brain evolution database that can be used for additional studies of the evolution of human features, and get new information in light of the origin and evolution of human intelligence. This project will try to get new ideas about brain enlargement in human evolution.