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The Loom

December 17, 2003

The Genes Behind Big Brains

Here's a new development in the search I described last week for the genes that make us uniquely human. Science's Michael Balter reports on a new study about a gene that's crucial for making big brains. Mutant versions of the gene produce people with tiny brains--about the size that Lucy had 3.5 million years ago. Comparisons of the human version of the gene with other mammals shows that it has undergone intense natural selection in our own lineage.

Size is far from everything, however. While humans have huge brains compared to other mammals, new kinds of wiring may have been more important in the transformation of the hominid brain into something that could be called truly human.

Posted by Carl at 3:33 PM
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Big brains, big genes

Excerpt: Yet more cool stuff from Carl Zimmer: Science's Michael Balter reports on a new study about a gene that's crucial for making big brains. Mutant versions of the gene produce people

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Trackback from Pharyngula, Dec 17, 2003 5:08 PM

ASPM really is a pretty cool gene -- I just listed a few other intriguing facts about it on Pharyngula.

Posted by PZ Myers on December 17, 2003 05:10 PM | Permalink to Comment
A very groovy brain gene

Excerpt: I've written a few articles in the past about the evolution of human brain size: Big brains, big genes (which followed up on an essay by Zimmer on The Genes Behind Big Brains), Brain size and allometry, More on...

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Trackback from The Panda's Thumb, Mar 29, 2004 11:06 PM

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