Special Issue "Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours"

A special issue of Symmetry (ISSN 2073-8994). This special issue belongs to the section "Biology and Symmetry/Asymmetry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2022) | Viewed by 21166

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Special Issue Editor

Dr. Antoine Balzeau
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
UMR 7194 natural history of the prehistoric human being, Museum national d’Histoire naturelle and CNRS, 75005 Paris, France
Department of African Zoology, Royal Museum for Central Africa, 3080 Tervuren, Belgium
Interests: human evolution; paleoneurology; hominins; behaviours; asymmetry

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Our knowledge of human evolution has made particular progress over the last twenty years, thanks to the discovery of new fossils, the use of new methods and multidisciplinary approaches. Moreover, studies of departure from symmetry, including variations in fluctuating or directional asymmetries, have contributed to the expansion of this knowledge in various fields of paleobiology and archaeology. This Special Issue brings together articles dealing with symmetry and human evolution. In this context, the notion of symmetry is addressed—whether to reconstitute and reconstruct partial or deformed fossil specimens, identify gene transmissions between human species, study biological variations within hominins or compare them with extant primates, address the shape of the brain, seek possible relationships between biological and behavioural data or directly address behaviours through the analysis of the production of prehistoric humans (tools, artistic productions, etc.)

Submit your paper and select the Journal “Symmetry” and the Special Issue “Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours” via: MDPI submission system. Our papers will be published on a rolling basis and we will be pleased to receive your submission once you have finished it.

Dr. Antoine Balzeau
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Symmetry is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Evolution
  • Biodiversity
  • Paleoneurology
  • Hominins
  • Archaeology
  • Prehistory
  • DA
  • FA
  • Departure from symmetry

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Special Issue “Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours”
Symmetry 2022, 14(9), 1808; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym14091808 - 01 Sep 2022
Viewed by 581
Abstract
Our knowledge of human evolution has made particular progress over the last twenty years, thanks to the discovery of new fossils and the use of new methods and multidisciplinary approaches [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours)

Research

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Article
Asymmetry of Endocast Surface Shape in Modern Humans Based on Diffeomorphic Surface Matching
Symmetry 2022, 14(7), 1459; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym14071459 - 17 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 697
Abstract
Brain asymmetry is associated with handedness and cognitive function, and is also reflected in the shape of endocasts. However, comprehensive quantification of the asymmetry in endocast shapes is limited. Here, we quantify and visualize the variation of endocast asymmetry in modern humans using [...] Read more.
Brain asymmetry is associated with handedness and cognitive function, and is also reflected in the shape of endocasts. However, comprehensive quantification of the asymmetry in endocast shapes is limited. Here, we quantify and visualize the variation of endocast asymmetry in modern humans using diffeomorphic surface matching. Our results show that two types of lobar fluctuating asymmetry contribute most to global asymmetry variation. A dominant pattern of local directional asymmetry is shared in the majority of the population: (1) the left occipital pole protrudes more than the right frontal pole in the left-occipital and right-frontal petalial asymmetry; (2) the left Broca’s cap appears to be more globular and bulges laterally, anteriorly, and ventrally compared to the right side; and (3) the asymmetrical pattern of the parietal is complex and the posterior part of the right temporal lobes are more bulbous than the contralateral sides. This study confirms the validity of endocasts for obtaining valuable information on encephalic asymmetries and reveals a more complicated pattern of asymmetry of the cerebral lobes than previously reported. The endocast asymmetry pattern revealed here provides more shape information to explore the relationships between brain structure and function, to re-define the uniqueness of human brains related to other primates, and to trace the timing of the human asymmetry pattern within hominin lineages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours)
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Article
The Significance of Chimpanzee Occipital Asymmetry to Hominin Evolution
Symmetry 2021, 13(10), 1862; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym13101862 - 03 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1207
Abstract
Little is known about how occipital lobe asymmetry, width, and height interact to contribute to the operculation of the posterior parietal lobe, despite the utility of knowing this for understanding the relative reduction in the size of the occipital lobe and the increase [...] Read more.
Little is known about how occipital lobe asymmetry, width, and height interact to contribute to the operculation of the posterior parietal lobe, despite the utility of knowing this for understanding the relative reduction in the size of the occipital lobe and the increase in the size of the posterior parietal lobe during human brain evolution. Here, we use linear measurements taken on 3D virtual brain surfaces obtained from 83 chimpanzees to study these traits as they apply to operculation of the posterior occipital parietal arcus or bridging gyrus. Asymmetry in this bridging gyrus visibility provides a unique opportunity to study both the human ancestral and human equivalently normal condition in the same individual. Our results show that all three traits (occipital lobe asymmetry, width, and height) are related to this operculation and bridging gyrus visibility but width and not height is the best predictor, against expectations, suggesting that relative reduction of the occipital lobe and exposure of the posterior parietal is a complex phenomenon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours)
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Article
Biomechanical Evaluation on the Bilateral Asymmetry of Complete Humeral Diaphysis in Chinese Archaeological Populations
Symmetry 2021, 13(10), 1843; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym13101843 - 02 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1183
Abstract
Diaphyseal cross-sectional geometry (CSG) is an effective indicator of humeral bilateral asymmetry. However, previous studies primarily focused on CSG properties from limited locations to represent the overall bilateral biomechanical performance of humeral diaphysis. In this study, the complete humeral diaphyses of 40 pairs [...] Read more.
Diaphyseal cross-sectional geometry (CSG) is an effective indicator of humeral bilateral asymmetry. However, previous studies primarily focused on CSG properties from limited locations to represent the overall bilateral biomechanical performance of humeral diaphysis. In this study, the complete humeral diaphyses of 40 pairs of humeri from three Chinese archaeological populations were scanned using high-resolution micro-CT, and their biomechanical asymmetries were quantified by morphometric mapping. Patterns of humeral asymmetry were compared between sub-groups defined by sex and population, and the representativeness of torsional rigidity asymmetry at the 35% and 50% cross-sections (J35 and J50 asymmetry) was testified. Inter-group differences were observed on the mean morphometric maps, but were not statistically significant. Analogous distribution patterns of highly asymmetrical regions, which correspond to major muscle attachments, were observed across nearly all the sexes and populations. The diaphyseal regions with high variability of bilateral asymmetry tended to present a low asymmetrical level. The J35 and J50 asymmetry were related to the overall humeral asymmetry, but the correlation was moderate and they could not reflect localized asymmetrical features across the diaphysis. This study suggests that the overall asymmetry pattern of humeral diaphysis is more complicated than previously revealed by individual sections. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours)
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Article
Morphometric Maps of Bilateral Asymmetry in the Human Humerus: An Implementation in the R Package Morphomap
Symmetry 2021, 13(9), 1711; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym13091711 - 16 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1781
Abstract
In biological anthropology, parameters relating to cross-sectional geometry are calculated in paired long bones to evaluate the degree of lateralization of anatomy and, by inference, function. Here, we describe a novel approach, newly added to the morphomap R package, to assess the lateralization [...] Read more.
In biological anthropology, parameters relating to cross-sectional geometry are calculated in paired long bones to evaluate the degree of lateralization of anatomy and, by inference, function. Here, we describe a novel approach, newly added to the morphomap R package, to assess the lateralization of the distribution of cortical bone along the entire diaphysis. The sample comprises paired long bones belonging to 51 individuals (10 females and 41 males) from The New Mexico Decedent Image Database with known biological profile, occupational and loading histories. Both males and females show a pattern of right lateralization. In addition, males are more lateralized than females, whereas there is not a significant association between lateralization with occupation and loading history. Body weight, height and long-bone length are the major factors driving the emergence of asymmetry in the humerus, while interestingly, the degree of lateralization decreases in the oldest individuals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours)
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Article
A New Integrated Tool to Calculate and Map Bilateral Asymmetry on Three-Dimensional Digital Models
Symmetry 2021, 13(9), 1644; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym13091644 - 07 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1357
Abstract
The observation and the quantification of asymmetry in biological structures are deeply investigated in geometric morphometrics. Patterns of asymmetry were explored in both living and fossil species. In living organisms, levels of directional and fluctuating asymmetry are informative about developmental processes and health [...] Read more.
The observation and the quantification of asymmetry in biological structures are deeply investigated in geometric morphometrics. Patterns of asymmetry were explored in both living and fossil species. In living organisms, levels of directional and fluctuating asymmetry are informative about developmental processes and health status of the individuals. Paleontologists are primarily interested in asymmetric features introduced by the taphonomic process, as they may significantly alter the original shape of the biological remains, hampering the interpretation of morphological features which may have profound evolutionary significance. Here, we provide a new R tool that produces the numerical quantification of fluctuating and directional asymmetry and charts asymmetry directly on the specimens under study, allowing the visual inspection of the asymmetry pattern. We tested this show.asymmetry algorithm, written in the R language, on fossil and living cranial remains of the genus Homo. show.asymmetry proved successful in discriminating levels of asymmetry among sexes in Homo sapiens, to tell apart fossil from living Homo skulls, to map effectively taphonomic distortion directly on the fossil skulls, and to provide evidence that digital restoration obliterates natural asymmetry to unnaturally low levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours)
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Article
Retrodeformation of the Steinheim Cranium: Insights into the Evolution of Neanderthals
Symmetry 2021, 13(9), 1611; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym13091611 - 02 Sep 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3097
Abstract
A number of different approaches are currently available to digitally restore the symmetry of a specimen deformed by taphonomic processes. These tools include mirroring and retrodeformation to approximate the original shape of an object by symmetrisation. Retrodeformation has the potential to return a [...] Read more.
A number of different approaches are currently available to digitally restore the symmetry of a specimen deformed by taphonomic processes. These tools include mirroring and retrodeformation to approximate the original shape of an object by symmetrisation. Retrodeformation has the potential to return a rather faithful representation of the original shape, but its power is limited by the availability of bilateral landmarks. A recent protocol proposed by Schlager and colleagues (2018) overcomes this issue by using bilateral landmarks and curves as well as semilandmarks. Here we applied this protocol to the Middle Pleistocene human cranium from Steinheim (Germany), the holotype of an abandoned species named Homo steinheimensis. The peculiar morphology of this fossil, associated with the taphonomic deformation of the entire cranium and the lack of a large portion of the right side of the face, has given rise to different hypotheses over its phylogenetic position. The reconstruction presented here sheds new light on the taphonomic origin of some features observed on this crucial specimen and results in a morphology consistent with its attribution to the Neanderthal lineage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours)
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Article
Get a Grip: Variation in Human Hand Grip Strength and Implications for Human Evolution
Symmetry 2021, 13(7), 1142; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym13071142 - 26 Jun 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3555
Abstract
Although hand grip strength is critical to the daily lives of humans and our arboreal great ape relatives, the human hand has changed in form and function throughout our evolution due to terrestrial bipedalism, tool use, and directional asymmetry (DA) such as handedness. [...] Read more.
Although hand grip strength is critical to the daily lives of humans and our arboreal great ape relatives, the human hand has changed in form and function throughout our evolution due to terrestrial bipedalism, tool use, and directional asymmetry (DA) such as handedness. Here we investigate how hand form and function interact in modern humans to gain an insight into our evolutionary past. We measured grip strength in a heterogeneous, cross-sectional sample of human participants (n = 662, 17 to 83 years old) to test the potential effects of age, sex, asymmetry (hand dominance and handedness), hand shape, occupation, and practice of sports and musical instruments that involve the hand(s). We found a significant effect of sex and hand dominance on grip strength, but not of handedness, while hand shape and age had a greater influence on female grip strength. Females were significantly weaker with age, but grip strength in females with large hands was less affected than those with long hands. Frequent engagement in hand sports significantly increased grip strength in the non-dominant hand in both sexes, while only males showed a significant effect of occupation, indicating different patterns of hand dominance asymmetries and hand function. These results improve our understanding of the link between form and function in both hands and offer an insight into the evolution of human laterality and dexterity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours)
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Article
Asymmetries of Cerebellar Lobe in the Genus Homo
Symmetry 2021, 13(6), 988; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym13060988 - 02 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2243
Abstract
The endocast was paid great attention in the study of human brain evolution. However, compared to that of the cerebrum, the cerebellar lobe is poorly studied regarding its morphology, function, and evolutionary changes in the process of human evolution. In this study, we [...] Read more.
The endocast was paid great attention in the study of human brain evolution. However, compared to that of the cerebrum, the cerebellar lobe is poorly studied regarding its morphology, function, and evolutionary changes in the process of human evolution. In this study, we define the major axis and four measurements to inspect possible asymmetric patterns within the genus Homo. Results show that significant asymmetry is only observed for the cerebellar length in modern humans and is absent in Homo erectus and Neanderthals. The influence of occipital petalia is obscure due to the small sample size for H. erectus and Neanderthals, while it has a significant influence over the asymmetries of cerebellar height and horizontal orientation in modern humans. Although the length and height of the Neanderthal cerebellum are comparable to that of modern humans, its sagittal orientation is closer to that of H. erectus, which is wider than that of modern humans. The cerebellar morphological difference between Neanderthals and modern humans is suggested to be related to high cognitive activities, such as social factors and language ability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours)
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Review

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Review
Limb Preference in Animals: New Insights into the Evolution of Manual Laterality in Hominids
Symmetry 2022, 14(1), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym14010096 - 07 Jan 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1686
Abstract
Until the 1990s, the notion of brain lateralization—the division of labor between the two hemispheres—and its more visible behavioral manifestation, handedness, remained fiercely defined as a human specific trait. Since then, many studies have evidenced lateralized functions in a wide range of species, [...] Read more.
Until the 1990s, the notion of brain lateralization—the division of labor between the two hemispheres—and its more visible behavioral manifestation, handedness, remained fiercely defined as a human specific trait. Since then, many studies have evidenced lateralized functions in a wide range of species, including both vertebrates and invertebrates. In this review, we highlight the great contribution of comparative research to the understanding of human handedness’ evolutionary and developmental pathways, by distinguishing animal forelimb asymmetries for functionally different actions—i.e., potentially depending on different hemispheric specializations. Firstly, lateralization for the manipulation of inanimate objects has been associated with genetic and ontogenetic factors, with specific brain regions’ activity, and with morphological limb specializations. These could have emerged under selective pressures notably related to the animal locomotion and social styles. Secondly, lateralization for actions directed to living targets (to self or conspecifics) seems to be in relationship with the brain lateralization for emotion processing. Thirdly, findings on primates’ hand preferences for communicative gestures accounts for a link between gestural laterality and a left-hemispheric specialization for intentional communication and language. Throughout this review, we highlight the value of functional neuroimaging and developmental approaches to shed light on the mechanisms underlying human handedness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours)
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Review
What Are the Synergies between Paleoanthropology and Brain Imaging?
Symmetry 2021, 13(10), 1974; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym13101974 - 19 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1746
Abstract
We are interested here in the central organ of our thoughts: the brain. Advances in neuroscience have made it possible to obtain increasing information on the anatomy of this organ, at ever-higher resolutions, with different imaging techniques, on ever-larger samples. At the same [...] Read more.
We are interested here in the central organ of our thoughts: the brain. Advances in neuroscience have made it possible to obtain increasing information on the anatomy of this organ, at ever-higher resolutions, with different imaging techniques, on ever-larger samples. At the same time, paleoanthropology has to deal with partial reflections on the shape of the brain, on fragmentary specimens and small samples in an attempt to approach the morphology of the brain of past human species. It undeniably emerges from the perspective we propose here that paleoanthropology has much to gain from interacting more with the field of neuroimaging. Improving our understanding of the morphology of the endocast necessarily involves studying the external surface of the brain and the link it maintains with the internal surface of the skull. The contribution of neuroimaging will allow us to better define the relationship between brain and endocast. Models of intra- and inter-species variability in brain morphology inferred from large neuroimaging databases will help make the most of the rare endocasts of extinct species. We also conclude that exchanges between these two disciplines will also be beneficial to our knowledge of the Homo sapiens brain. Documenting the anatomy among other human species and including the variation over time within our own species are approaches that offer us a new perspective through which to appreciate what really characterizes the brain of humanity today. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Human Evolution, from Biology to Behaviours)
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