The fossil record of primate intelligence: From the earliest primates to human origins

David Begun


Animals collect and process the information they need to survive and reproduce. The means by which they process information is through the capacity of intelligence, which is in turn a function of the brain, its morphology, size, organization, and cytoarchitecture. While the internal organization and cellular interconnectivity of the brains of fossilized animals are invisible to paleontologists, the size and surface morphology of the brain are sometimes preserved, usually only in part, in the form of endocasts (casts, either natural or artificial, of the inside of the brain case). This broad survey of the evolution of intelligence in primates as interpreted from the fossil record of endocasts is primarily focused on the lineages that inform us more directly about the evolutionary events leading to the origin of human intelligence.


primate evolution; paleoneurology; paleoanthropology; hominoids; cognition

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