You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Ancient skulls show civilization rose as testosterone fell

With all due respect to all the macho men out there, you guys might have been holding the human race back — at least in prehistoric times. Researchers at Duke University and the University of Utah say the rise of human civilization as we know it is linked to a drop in testosterone levels.

The paper, published in the journal Current Anthropology, posits that a testosterone deficit facilitated the friendliness and cooperation between humans, which lead to modern society. Study lead Robert Cieri posits "reduced testosterone levels enabled increasingly social people to better learn from and cooperate with each other."

While Homo sapiens are at least 200,000 years old, the species didn't really start acting human until at least 50,000 years ago, when widespread use of tools and ornaments first appeared. (Via PBS)

>> Read more trending stories

Cieri theorized that a drop in testosterone might be correlated with that renaissance, and looked to ancient skulls for evidence. Testosterone levels can significantly shape the development of certain facial features, particularly the brow ridge and upper face.

​The scientists examined 1,400 human skulls from various prehistoric and modern periods. Comparing the newer skulls to the ancient ones, researchers noticed a sharp decline in features sculpted by testosterone; modern skulls have smaller brows and more rounded faces. (Via Matt Celeskey / CC BY SA 2.0High Contrast / CC BY 3.0 DEThomas Roche / CC BY SA 2.0)

Based on these findings, the study concluded two things; "the fossil record of H. sapiens does reflect reductions in craniofacial masculinity," and "it seems likely that important increases in human social tolerance developed during this interval." (Via Current Anthropology)

Or as The Washington Post puts it, the decline of testosterone led to "less head clubbing and more community building, basically."

There's some precedent for these findings in the animal kingdom. The researchers cited previous studies of Siberian foxes, whose appearances became more juvenile as they were domesticated. They also noted the differences in facial structures between aggressive chimpanzees and their more relaxed cousins, the bonobos. (Via Vimeo / Tyler ColePsych USD / CC BY SA 3.0Thomas Lersch / CC BY SA 3.0)

But there's only so much information researchers can glean from the ancient skulls. For instance, the study doesn't reveal whether the testosterone-lacking skulls were actually caused by a testosterone deficiency, or if the developing humans simply had fewer and fewer receptors for the chemical.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Health

Exercise of the Month: Dumbbell Flyes
Exercise of the Month: Dumbbell Flyes

Dumbbell Flyes help to strengthen the chest (pectoral) muscles. For maximum benefit, include them alongside other common chest exercises, such as Pushups and Chest Presses. This allows for developing strength on varying planes of movement. Primary muscles targeted include the chest and shoulders. Indirectly, Dumbbell Flyes work the upper back and biceps...
Ill New Carlisle boy, 4, gets to enjoy Disney
Ill New Carlisle boy, 4, gets to enjoy Disney

A Special Wish Foundation-Dayton Chapter is the only wish granting organization located in the Dayton region. For more information on how you can be part of granting a local child’s wish, go online to A child’s wish, no matter the age, is incredibly special. Almost all of us have looked into the night sky waiting...
D.L. Stewart: The circus is leaving town … finally
D.L. Stewart: The circus is leaving town … finally

News that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will fold its big top forever this May brought back a flood of happy, smiling memories for me. Ok, maybe not a flood, exactly. More like a droplet. In fact, my ONLY happy, smiling circus memory is from when I took my daughter to see one when she was six or seven years old. As the circus began...
Frostbite danger: Late treatment can lead to permanent damage
Frostbite danger: Late treatment can lead to permanent damage

Red cheeks and tingling fingers shouldn’t be considered a normal part of time spent outside on a frigid, winter day. Instead, these should be thought of as the beginning signs of something potentially dangerous. “Frostbite is a real condition that can be a threat to anyone who spends extended periods of time outdoors in cold weather,&rdquo...
Sleep problems? Try these changes in your routine
Sleep problems? Try these changes in your routine

Kettering Health Network is a faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare system. The network has eight hospitals: Grandview, Kettering, Sycamore, Southview, Greene Memorial, Fort Hamilton, Kettering Behavioral Health and Soin. If it has been a while since you slept like a baby, you are not alone. Many adults struggle to spend enough time in dreamland,...
More Stories