Number sense " is a short-hand for our ability to quickly understand, approximate, and manipulate numerical quantities. My hypothesis is that number sense rests on cerebral circuits that have evolved specifically for the purpose of representing basic arithmetic knowledge. Four lines of evidence suggesting that number sense constitutes a domain-specific, biologically-determined ability are reviewed: the presence of evolutionary precursors of arithmetic in animals; the early emergence of arithmetic competence in infants independently of other abilities, including language; the existence of a homology between the animal, infant, and human adult abilities for number processing ; and the existence of a dedicated cerebral substrate. In adults of all cultures, lesions to the inferior parietal region can specifically impair number sense while leaving the knowledge of other cognitive domains intact. Furthermore, this region is demonstrably activated during number processing. I postulate that higher-level cultural developments in arithmetic emerge through the establishment of linkages between this core analogical representation (the " number line ") and other verbal and visual representations of number notations. The neural and cognitive organization of those representations can explain why some mathematical concepts are intuitive, while others are so difficult to grasp. Thus, the ultimate foundations of mathematics rests on core representations that have been internalized in our brains through evolution.