3D laser scanning technology explores the progress of ancient human brain evolution

Wu Xiujie, associate researcher of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and graduate student Pan Lei used 3D laser scanning technology to study the asymmetry of the erect human brain in Zhoukoudian, 400,000 to 800,000 years ago, to explore the evolution of humans The evolution of midbrain asymmetry. The research results were published in the recently published "Science Bulletin" (Volume 56, Issue 16, pages 1282-1287).

Zhoukoudian is the earliest Homo erectus fossil site discovered in China. Since its official excavation in 1927, Zhoukoudian's first site has so far discovered six complete cranial fossils, and has successively recovered 6 corresponding intracranial specimens. Brain evolution is an important part of human evolution. Intracranial model, as a solidified and preserved form of ancient human brain morphology, stores information on the anatomy, physiology and evolution of ancient human brain, providing direct evidence for analysis and exploration of human brain evolution. So far, the research on the asymmetry of the brain of the erect human in Zhoukoudian has only been limited to the comparison of the degree of protrusion of the left and right cerebral hemispheres before and after and the width of the two sides. Although Wei Dunrui suggested that the erectus in Zhoukoudian may have a larger left cerebral hemisphere, due to the limitations of traditional measurement methods, no in-depth research and discussion have been made.

Wu Xiujie and others used 3D laser surface scanning technology to scan and three-dimensionally reconstruct the intracranial model of Zhoukoudian Homo erectus, and obtain the volume and surface area of ​​the left and right cerebral hemispheres. Comparing with the modern intracranial model, it was shown that the erectus and modern people in Zhoukoudian were There is no obvious asymmetry in the absolute brain volume and surface area of ​​the left and right hemispheres, but there is a significant difference in the relative brain volume composed of the brain volume and surface area: there is no significant difference in the relative brain volume of the left and right hemispheres of the erectus in Zhoukoudian. The difference is large; the relative brain volume of the left hemisphere of modern people is significantly larger than that of the right hemisphere, and the range of variation between individuals is small. This suggests that the asymmetry of the brain during human evolution does not occur in the absolute brain volume of the left and right hemispheres, but originates from the change of the relative brain volume. This change in anatomical structure may be related to the evolution of the superiority of one side of the brain.

NextEgine's portable 3D laser scanner can obtain three-dimensional data on the surface of the object, with an accuracy of 0.79-1.05 mm, which is suitable for the study of specimen materials such as human skulls and intracranial models. The device can capture the color information on the surface of the specimen, and it is easy to clearly delineate the fine anatomical features of the specimen surface on the computer. It can measure, divide and mirror the specimen more accurately, and obtain the volume, area and shape of each part of the specimen. Data is a powerful tool for studying the evolution of ancient human brains.

The research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (number).

Figure 1 The process of virtual segmentation of intracranial model using 3D laser scanning technology

Figure 2 Intracranial specimens of Zhoukoudian erectus (a) ZKD III; (b) ZKD II; (c) ZKD X; (d) ZKD XI; (e) ZKD XII; (f) ZKDâ…¤

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