Juan L asked in Social ScienceAnthropology · 1 decade ago

what is the significance of cephalization as an evolutionary trend?

6 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer


    Cephalization is the process in animals by which nervous and sensory tissues become concentrated in the "head." The evolution of a head allows scientists to distinguish between the head end, or anterior end of an animal's body, and the opposite end, the posterior. Although cephalization is associated primarily with bilaterally symmetrical species, even some of the more primitive, radially symmetrical animals show some degree of cephalization.

    Cephalization evolved several times within the animal kingdom, suggesting that it offers certain inherent advantages. In particular, with the evolution of cephalization, the anterior end of the animal became most likely to first encounter food, predators, and other important features of the external environment. Because brain and sense organs are also concentrated in the anterior end, the organism is well prepared to deal with these features.

    Cephalization in the Animal Kingdom

    Even hydras, which are primitive, radially symmetrical cnidarians, show some degree of cephalization. They have a "head" where their mouth, photoreceptive cells, and a concentration of neural cells are located.

    Flatworms (phylum Platyhelminthes) are the most primitive animals with bilateral symmetry. They also have a fairly advanced degree of cephalization, with sense organs (photosensory and chemosensory cells) and a brain concentrated at the anterior end. Consequently, scientists believe that cephalization characterized all bilaterally symmetrical animals from their origins. However, flatworms differ from more advanced animals in that their mouths are in the center of their bodies, not at the anterior end.

    In arthropods, cephalization progressed with the incorporation of more and more trunk segments into the head region. Scientists believe this was advantageous because it allowed for the evolution of more effective mouth-parts for capturing and processing food.

    Cephalization in vertebrates, the group that includes mammals, birds, and fishes, has been studied extensively. The heads of vertebrates are complex structures with many features not found in close relatives such as the cephalochordates. The cephalochordate Branchiostoma (formerly called Amphioxus), which is the closest relative of vertebrates, is a burrowing marine creature which lacks most of the head structures that are so distinct in vertebrates, such as distinct sense organs; a large, multilobed brain; teeth; and a tongue.

    There was a persistent debate during the twentieth century as to whether the vertebrate head is "old" or "new." Scientists who champion the idea of an "old" head suggest that the vertebrate head resulted from the evolution of important modifications to a previously existing head. The idea of a "new" vertebrate head was proposed originally by American vertebrate morphologists Carl Gans and Glenn Northcutt in 1983. They suggested that the vertebrate head is a new structure, which has no corresponding structure in close relatives such as Branchiostoma.

    Evidence to support a "new" vertebrate head comes from the observation that most important features of the head are derived from neural crest cells, embryonic cells found only in vertebrates. The neural crest cells are of ectodermal origin—rather than mesodermal or endodermal—and arise during the process of neurulation, the time at which the dorsal hollow nerve cord forms.

    Neural crest cells are exceptional in that they are highly mobile, migrating in streams throughout the head region and the rest of the body, and because they give rise to an unusual diversity of features. The neural crest cells are responsible for forming the bones of the face and jaws, the structures of the tongue and larynx, the teeth, and portions of the eye. Experiments in which the neural crest was removed from developing animals confirmed that these critical head structures failed to develop without it.

    Scientists hypothesize that increased cephalization in vertebrates, including the evolution of many of their novel head features, is related to adaptations for predation. Sensory structures—the jaw and large brain—are all requirements for a successful existence as a predator.

  • 1 decade ago

    Cephalization is the increase in brain size with evolutionary progression. This is very important in anthropology because it helps us distinguish between "apes" and "hominids". Apes, of course, are less like modern humans, and hominids are most like modern humans.

    The more in-depth reason that cephalization is important is the the increase in brain size allowed a greater capacity for thinking. This includes abstract reasoning and symbolization, the ability to make tools (even ones that take many steps before getting a recognizable tool), and the capacity for language. Basically, these are the things that we believe really set us apart from the average animal.

    By measuring the cranial cavity in pre-hominid and hominid fossils, we can roughly track the evolutionary progress of these abilities.

  • 4 years ago

    Animals are classed with the help of their body plans. Sponges do not have any prepared tissue structure. some like sea anemones have radially symmetric bodies. in spite of the undeniable fact that many, like us, are bilaterally symmetric with an anterior and posterior axis. appropriate with this bilateral symmetry is cephalization. that's an evolutionary form in the route of the most objective of sensory kit on the anterior end. Radial animals have a tendency to be sessile or loose floating plankton in existence form. Animals that actively bypass are bilateral and a turning out to be style of cephalized in the route of commute to position the senses and their interpretive center close. this helps quick interpretation of alerts on the earliest aspect of detection. Chemotatic responsive habit includes transferring up the chemical gradient in the route of the objective foodstuff source. If the sensory receptors are centred on the ahead end of the organism they're able to come back across any alteration in the signal previous to in the journey that they were decrease on the organism anterioposterior body axis. Organisms that could want to bump into their prey (nutrient source) and immediately respond to ameliorations in its position quicker may be below effective decision. Cephalization may be one way they could strengthen their responsiveness to their surroundings.

  • 1 decade ago

    Before cephalization, predators could come at an organism from any side (think-jelly fish). But with cephalization the prey can see their predator and be more able to defend themselves, thus living longer....so survival of the fittest.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Actually, there is a measure called encephalization quotient which is the ratio of brain mass to body mass and it appears to be correlated with basic social group size in mammals.

    So, encephalization can be argued as a combination of things.

    First, encephalization is correlated with the number of individuals an individual primate interacts with individually. (RIM Dunbar has done studies on this and a measure of it is called Dunbar's Number.) Larger social group size means more support and a bigger buffer towards survival.

    Second, encephalization allows more cortex area and basic volume for use in specialized sensory and motor functions like face recognition, more precise detection of movement and depth perception, a more refined repertoire of dexterous tasks, and other "special effects" done by the brain. (Using and interpreting echolocation in Dolphins likely falls into this also.)

    Third, encephalization allows for more complex and more flexible behavioral responses to the environment and the adoption of culture (in the sociobiological definition) as an additional means of inheritance and behavioral control.

    There are probably others, but those might be a good start.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Bigger heads lead to bigger brains, which, supposedly leads to more intelligence. Cephalization in a nut shell.

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