Deprivation of Nutrition as a Factor in Human Cognitive Evolution

Session Date: 
Oct 11, 2019
Speakers: 

Adequate vitamins and minerals are essential for normal cognitive development and iodine will be taken as the example. Severe iodine deficiency is a known cause of learning difficulties, but even suboptimal maternal iodine in early pregnancy can reduce the child’s verbal IQ.  Early humans thrived on the coast, perhaps the rich iodine diet contributing to cognitive development. Interestingly, bonobos restricted to the central part of the Congo basin, regarded as iodine deficient, dive for aquatic plants that turn out to be rich in iodine.  A different theme concerns the pay-off between body size, pelvic size for safe offspring delivery and food supply. Current humans contain Neanderthal DNA sequences indicating past interbreeding. Neanderthals were larger with wider pelvises than present day humans and maintaining adequate food supply could become critical with shifts in climate and available habitat.  How modern humans might have resolved this challenge will be considered.