3d Brain Model

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Using high-resolution x-ray computer imaging technology, scientists from Duke University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have been able to construct a 3-D model of the brain that was once housed in a 15-million-year-old monkey skull. The ancient monkey skull belongs to the species of Old World monkeys known as Victoriapithecus, which includes baboons and macaques. The skull was originally found in 1997 in Lake Victoria in Kenya.

15-Million-Year-Old Secrets Uncovered

A study co-authored by Lauren Gonzales of Duke University and Fred Spoor of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology sheds some light on some long-held secrets of the ancient skull. Prior to their research, it was commonly thought and generally accepted that primate brains first grew in size, and then in complexity. However, the 3-D brain image that they were able to construct after using
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Their CT scans showed that the tiny brain housed in the ancient skull actually had a plethora of wrinkles and folds, indicating a vastly complex brain. In addition to the many wrinkles and folds, however, another stunning discovery was made. The 3-D model showed that the olfactory bulb, which is the part of the brain used to perceive and interpret smells, was actually quite large. It had a size that was three times bigger than expected of a primate of that size, indicating that its sense of smell was highly elevated compared to primates of today. In comparison, primates of today have much larger brains, but much smaller olfactory bulbs. It is believed that this is due to a trade-off that occurred as sight improved over time. The researchers believe that this means that the ancient primate that the 15-million-year-old monkey skull belonged to qu ite possibly did not have to make such a trade-off and instead had held on to both
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