A large neonate brain, rapid brain growth and large frontal lobes are the typical hallmarks of human brain development.
These appeared much earlier in the hominin family tree than was originally thought, as anthropologists from the University of Zurich who re-examined the Taung child’s fossil cranial sutures and compared them with other fossil skulls now prove. The late fusion of the cranial sutures in the Taung child is also found in many other members of the Australopithecus africanus species and the earliest examples of the Homo genus.
The Australopithecus child’s skull discovered in Taung in 1924 is an icon of human evolution. Of the neurocranium, the fossilized sediment filling has survived. The imprints of the original cerebral gyri on this rock core have fascinated paleoanthropologists from the outset and triggered much debate on the evolution of the Australopithecus brain.