How A Single Gene Alteration May Have Separated Modern Humans from Predecessors
Published:19 Feb.2021    Source:University of California - San Diego

As a professor of pediatrics and cellular and molecular medicine at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Alysson R. Muotri, PhD, has long studied how the brain develops and what goes wrong in neurological disorders. For almost as long, he has also been curious about the evolution of the human brain -- what changed that makes us so different from preceding Neanderthals and Denisovans, our closest evolutionary relatives, now extinct?

 
Evolutionary studies rely heavily on two tools -- genetics and fossil analysis -- to explore how a species changes over time. But neither approach can reveal much about brain development and function because brains do not fossilize, Muotri said. There is no physical record to study.