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Cranial capacity

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Cranial capacity is a measure of the volume of the interior of the cranium (also called the braincase or brainpan) of those vertebrates who have both a cranium and a brain. The most commonly used unit of measure is the cubic centimetre or cc. The volume of the cranium is used as a rough indicator of the size of the brain, and this in turn is used as a rough indicator of the potential intelligence of the organism. However, larger cranial capacity is not always indicative of a more intelligent organism, since larger capacities are required for controlling larger more muscular bodies, or in some cases are an adaptive feature for life in a colder environment. The largest human cranium on record belongs to Robert Vollmar, age 21.

Examples of cranial capacity:

Examples of early hominids:

TaxonSize (cc)# of SpecimensAge (MYA)
Australopithecus afarensis43843.6–2.9
Australopithecus africanus45273.0–2.4
Australopithecus boisei52112.3–1.4
Australopithecus robustus53011.9–1.4
Homo habilis61261.9–1.6
Homo rudolfensis75212.4–1.6
Homo ergaster87131.9–1.7


  • McHenry, Henry M. [2002]. "23: Introduction to the fossil record of human ancestry" Walter C. Hartwig The Primate Fossil Record (in English), 402, Cambridge University Press. 0521663156.
  • Lynn, R. (2006). Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis. ISBN 1-59368-021-X.
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