Americans Getting Bigger Heads?

  • June 5, 2012
  • Science
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Americans Getting Bigger Heads?

If someone were to tell you that Americans, on average, have bigger heads than before, it might be seen as a joke, or some type of insult. But here, we’re not talking about somebody with a big ego, or who think too highly of himself. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Tennessee, it seems that our skulls are actually growing bigger in size. Not by much, but enough to affect the average of the whole population, with a couple of millimeters being easily seen when studying a large number of skulls in close up. It’s a fascinating result from a long study that went on over many months where scientists studies around 1,500 skulls, both from modern day humans, along with some from the 19th century. The results were surprising.

It seems that in just under 150 years, the average human skull grew bigger. Now there’s no doubt that evolution makes our bodies change over time, and over the thousands of years we have records from, our various features have changed to adapt to our nearby environment. But this change is usually very gradual. In fact over many thousands of years we’re unlikely to see much difference at all. So what can explain such a big change in just a few hundred years? Evolution alone can’t explain it, and while scientists don’t know for sure, some speculate that our lifestyle is contributing to our enlarging skulls, maybe even more than previously thought, where it’s not just our bellies or muscles that get affected when we eat too much or start exercising.

According to the researchers, it seems like our current lifestyle in the early 21th century, and the changing lifestyle we’ve gone through during the industrial era, contributed in many changes in our body, including the size and even shape of our skulls. The average skull grew in height 6.8% in just over 100 years, something which is a fairly large amount. It seems like scientists suspected that the change had been happening, but this recent study shows how much for the first time in recent history. In Europe, it seems like change is also happening, but not as much as in the US, interestingly enough. According to one of the researcher speaking in a written statement, it seems that the results come from a modified growth pattern because of better food we eat, a lower infant mortality, a less active lifestyle, and more. How much each factor affects the change is unknown.

The researchers will keep working on the problem to try and find out how much each lifestyle factor affects this changing skull size and shape, but so far it’s interesting to see evolution at such a fast pace. It seems like when you eat that extra burger, not only is your belly affected, but you may be contributing to some skull change as well. Now if only that could be true for getting bigger heads, as in a bigger ego.






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