The Price of Intelligence – Evolution of the Human Brain

Everything comes with a price. 

You can never really tell which is the highest or the purest form of color white. The paper that I was writing on looks very white but I can always find things which are whiter. You can never define something as absolute ‘white’. There will be always some impurity to it; some blackness in paper; some pinkish tinge on white skin or anything. Similarly subjective and objective things are never really good or bad. Of course there are things which are deemed more good than bad; but there is no such thing as the highest form of goodness without a tinge of ‘bad’ attached to it. The evolution of human brain which is nonetheless instructing my hand to write these very words is a perfect example for this!

The Price:

It sometimes irritates me when people marvel about the beauty of a Human brain; how much it is capable of doing; how much it has accomplished in the shortest period of time; like our brains have no dark side to it. I guess Human brains have the tendency to neglect the bad things about themselves. This post is just my brain’s attempt to bring out its shortcomings in an evolutionary context because we already had witnessed what shit human brains can do to the environment and to other human brains. 

Before 30 lakh years, Human brains weren’t as big as what they are now. They were probably one-third of the size. How it became bigger in size is an entirely different debate, but somehow due to natural selection and evolutionary pressures, its size began to increase and also the problems for humans as well.

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As the brain size increased, the skull of a human baby also increased which would’ve let to birth complications. Human babies are born premature compared to other mammals. A calf can stand on its feet and walk five minutes after birth. A human baby have to wait a year to do the same. Hence for the first year or so of life, humans became very vulnerable. Vulnerable to predators and also diseases as our immune system were largely supplemented by mother’s milk. The law of nature is that, one thing ‘will’ lead to another and hence infant vulnerability meant that one of the parents had to take care of the baby and protect them. Since the males were already evolved well-built to hunt (or it might have happened simultaneously with the enlargement of the brain), the females had to carry the infant, feed them and tend to them. This might have been the beginning of civilization itself as many human females can protect their infants together rather than as individuals. This might have also been the beginning of some of the cultures which are considered ‘sexist’ in today’s world. Females sit at home and males go out and work. Sounds familiar? All because our brains became bigger.

Besides these, the complications didn’t stop right there. It began a new level of sexual selection and attraction. It is natural for a female to select a fit, good looking male as her partner and earlier I speculate that human males wouldn’t have been that choosy about a mate because they invest very little in raising a young (Much like harems maybe). However as our brains became bigger and birth complications were on the rise, men began to look for ‘curvy’ women! 

Nonsense eh? Let me explain.

Men began to prefer (Still do) women with a shorter hip and a broader waist. This is actually an advantage during child birth because a broader waist means a broader cervix which means easier for the baby’s head to pop out during birth; and secondly shorter hips means fit hip muscles which will thrust the baby out easily. It might seem like wild speculation but there are enough fossilized and actual evidence for that. 

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This post is just an attempt to explain that our human brains had shaped our history more than what meets the eye. I’ll probably do another post explaining ‘how’ the human brain actually became bigger during our evolutionary history. Meanwhile, if you have other theories feel free to share them. Besides that if you know a man who doesn’t like curvy women, let me know 😛 

References:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obstetrical_dilemma#Proposed_solution_to_obstetrical_dilemma

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waist%E2%80%93hip_ratio#Measure_of_attractiveness

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