Researchers have revealed new details about the brain, pelvis, hands, and feet of Australopithecus sediba, a primitive hominin that existed around the same time early Homo species first began to appear on Earth. The new Au. sediba findings, unearthed in Malapa, South Africa, make it clear that this ancient relative displayed both primitive characteristics as well as more modern, human-like traits.
Due to the “mosaic” nature of the hominin’s features, researchers are now suggesting that Au. sediba is the best candidate for an ancestor to the Homo genus.
The language and cognitive difficulties often seen in autism may be caused in part by an overly connected frontal lobe within the brain, says a new study of children published in Science Translational Medicine.
The research points to a gene called CNTNAP2 as responsible for wiring neurons in the front of the brain. If carrying different versions of CNTNAP2 is found to be a consistent predictor of language difficulties, the findings may help researchers design targeted therapies to assist the brain toward a path of more normative development early on.