The Anthropometry of the Homo domesticus

(AR with 3D object target)

 

One of the most well-known major trends of human evolution is the increase in brain size. In the beginning of the Pleistocene (colloquially Ice Age, which lasted from about 2 588 000 to 11 700 years ago), the average endocranial volume of fossil Homo specimens was approximately 750 ml. By 30 000 years ago, this average value had increased to nearly 1500 ml.

 

The studies of the anthropologist Prof. John Hawks are less well known. He observed a substantial decline in the endocranial volume throughout the terminal Pleistocene and Holocene-Anthropocene (from ca. 30,000 years ago to the present). The scope of this decrease is remarkable: reduced from a mean of 1500 ml to a recent value of 1241 ml. The shrinkage approximately equals the size of a tennis ball. The reason for the reduction of the human brain remains undefined. Still its occurrence coincides with the development of major civilizations and transition toward urban living, hence it raises questions about the relationship between the brain, culture, society, and behavior. The artistic research project investigates this relationship and the possible background of this anatomical change.

 

The Anthropometry of the Homo domesticus (2017) is a part of the research project manifesting in a custom-made brick (3 x 9.5 x 4.5 cm), measuring the endocranial volume that the human species has already lost.

 

Throughout the Holocene-Anthropocene (starting approx. 11 700 years ago) the presence of humans, and their organization into societies has been shaping the environment, and this environmental change recoils human evolution. In other words urbanization not only modifies the environment that surrounds us, but produces important changes of the human behavior, physiology and morphology. Due to the theory of the anthropologist Richard Wrangham this suite of heritable traits occurring in humans lately is comparable to the “domestication syndrome” of domesticated mammals, described by Charles Darwin. The characteristics include: increased docility and tameness, reductions in tooth size, prolongations in juvenile behavior, and reductions in both total brain size and of particular brain regions.

 

Social saturation (demographic growth), built environment, generally the impact of human activity on ecosystems has a backlash on human evolution, thus we are becoming our domesticated self, Homo domesticus replaces Homo sapiens.

The namesake of Homo sapiens is the ability to think, the process of self-domestication might include the retrogression of this ability. Thinking might not be the task of humans, as soon as it teaches its machines to learn.

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Brick 3 x 9.5 x 4.5 cm

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Brick 3 x 9.5 x 4.5 cm

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Brick 3 x 9.5 x 4.5 cm

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Video 7:02 min

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Video 7:02 min

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