The finding indicated that primate brain enlargement evolved later than once thought, the researchers said on Monday.
They analyzed a remarkably well-preserved fossilized skull of the little primate Aegyptopithecus zeuxis, which lived in the trees and ate fruit and leaves about 29 million years ago in warm forests in what is now an Egyptian desert.
A technique called microcomputerized tomography scanning -- a computerized X-ray method also called micro-CT -- allowed them to determine the dimensions of the animal's brain.
"What was astonishing is how small this brain is," Duke University primatologist Elwyn Simons, who led the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said in a telephone interview.
"You can also see it's a pretty darn primitive brain. It would be small for a monkey or an ape," Simons added. "So it's telling us that the speed of achievement of brain enlargement in primates was a little slower than perhaps we had thought."
Our ancestors had fairly small brains
Posted on Saturday, May 19 2007 @ 11:12 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Scientists have found evidence that our ancestors who lived 29 million years ago had much smaller brains than expected, Reuters reports: