Why So Big? Understanding the Early Evolution of the Brain in Primates and Their Relatives Using the Fossil Record

In this Speaker Series guest speaker Dr. Mary Silcox of the University of Toronto explores “Why So Big? Understanding the Early Evolution of the Brain in Primates and Their Relatives Using the Fossil Record.”

Dr. Silcox’s main research focus is on the earliest evolution of our own Order, the Primates. In particular, she studies fossils of some of the most primitive primates, which date to the period just after the extinction of the dinosaurs, some 65 million years ago. Her talk on February 12 focuses on one particular characteristic of primates that has garnered a lot of attention: large brain size. Humans are exceptional as mammals with the largest brains relative to our body size, and the members of our Order are also typically quite “brainy” compared to other groups.

Although there has been a lot of research on living primates to try and understand the evolution of this feature, much less work has been done probing the fossil record for what it can tell us about the early evolution of the brain.


The Royal Tyrrell Museum’s Speaker Series talks are free and open to the public. For more information, visit tyrrellmuseum.com.

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