Homo Aquaticus? Essay

1832 words - 7 pages

Homo Aquaticus?

I. Introduction

When the human brain is compared with the brains of apes there are several
obvious differences; the centers for the sense of smell and foot control are
larger in apes than in humans, but the centers for hand control, airway control,
vocalization, language and thought are larger in humans. In my paper, I will
describe the most defined differences of brain size and centers between humans
and their closest relatives, chimpanzees, to compare them with other mammals and
to draw conclusions about the evolution history of humans.

II. Brain Evolution

Humans and chimpanzees are biochemically (DNA) and therefore probably
phylogenetically (evolution relationships), more alike than chimps and gorillas.
But the brains of chimps and humans differ in size and anatomy more than
gorillas and chimps. The brains of chimps and gorillas probably didn't go
through many evolutionary innovations, because they generally resemble other ape
and monkey brains. This implies that the human brain changed a lot after the
human/chimp evolution. With the exception of the olferactory bulb (scent), all
brain structures are larger in humans than in apes. The neocortex (part of the
cerebral cortex), for instance is over three times larger than in chimps, even
though chimps and humans are pretty close to equal in body weight.
Each side of the brain is diveded by the central sulces into independant
halves. Just before the central sulcus lies the post-central cortex, where the
opposite body half (right side for left brain, left side for right brain). Just
in front of the central sulcus lies the pre-central cortex where the information
for the voluntary movements leave tthe brain. The pre-central area is called
primary motor cortex, and also "Area 4" in primates.

III. Human and Chimp Cortex Differences

In humans Area 4 is almost twice as large as it is in chimpanzees. The
part of Area 4 that commands the movement of the leg, foot and toes is smaller
in humans than apes. This leaves more room for the part that controls the hand,
fingers and thumb. Even bigger is the lower part of human Area 4, related to
the mouth and brething and vocal cords. The post central cortex is enlarged the
same as Area 4.
In front of the primate Area 4 lie the cortex areas (pre-motor) that tell
Area 4 what to do. In front of the enlarged part of human Area 4 is the Area of
Broca, the motor-speech center which controls the breathing muscles. Above Area
Broca is Wernicke's Area, the speech center, a uniquely human brain center along
with Area of Broca. Wernicke's Area has direct connections to Broca's Area
through arcuate fasciculus, a neural pathway that apes don't have anywhere in
their brain.
The major difference between the human and ape cortex's is the enlargement
of the hand and mouth integration areas. These areas occupy a large part of the
human brain.ý In the motor half of the cerebral cortex, enlarged areas are in
the pre-motor area and Broca's Area. In...

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