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  • Skulls of Americans "getting bigger"

    National Geographic.

    The title says "bigger"; the text, "taller and roomier"

    It's not clear why—medicine? cars? supermarkets?—but the skulls of white Americans, and perhaps of other races and nationalities, have become slightly taller and roomier, according to new forensic research. ...
    But as a quoted anthropologist points out:

    ... research shows a bigger cranium doesn't necessarily mean more intellect ...
    Americans' Heads Getting Bigger


    A shot in the dark, but I'd be interested to know if they measured skull width as well, and if so what they found for that. I can't help thinking of Pottenger's cats, and how the mal-fed cats acquired elongated skulls (and elongated bodies with longer limbs) over several generations. Might increasing sugar in the diet give you "taller" but "narrower" skulls? AFAIK, few people in the modern developed world have fully erupted wisdom teeth: what about the skulls from 1825?

  • #2
    My husband is in school for anthropology, and he mentioned this the other day. He had learned about a theory that the increasing size of humans' skulls should have curbed the population growth, due to many babies not being able to be born vaginally (resulting in death of baby and mom, I assume). Yet, when we developed the c-section method, we were able to overcome this, and population continues to increase. Does this make sense? My husband explained it much more eloquently Interesting stuff, though.

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    • #3
      Doesn't a diet over-heavy in carbs like wheat lead to people getting too tall? I am quite tall and I more or less only ate wheat until I was well into my teens.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by billp View Post
        Doesn't a diet over-heavy in carbs like wheat lead to people getting too tall? I am quite tall and I more or less only ate wheat until I was well into my teens.
        The introduction of agriculture coincides with a marked decrease in stature and bone health in ancient Mediterraneans.
        You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Grumpycakes View Post
          The introduction of agriculture coincides with a marked decrease in stature and bone health in ancient Mediterraneans.
          I take it billp meant a large proportion of refined carbohydrate and in the context of adequate protein (but perhaps sub-optimal mineral and vitamin status).

          In much of the Ancient Mediterranean you'd have unrefined carbohydrate -- and perhaps not enough protein, too, which isn't a problem on the whole nowadays (except perhaps with certain sub-groups such as vegetarians). That kind of diet would produce different effects.

          I suspect the answer to what billp said may well be "yes". Too tall here is going to mean too tall (or long) for your robustness -- just as with Pottenger's cats. Suggestions that that has been happening have certainly been around for some time. This from a 1950s bodybuilder:

          His articles went into surprising detail on the biochemical pathways through which sugar did its damage, pointing out the relation between sugar and atherosclerosis, abnormal increases in height and weight and skeletal anomalies.
          Splendid Specimens: The History of Nutrition in Bodybuilding - Weston A Price Foundation

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Sihana
            Ancient alien theorists are going to love this: we're turning into greys.
            beautiful
            yeah you are

            Baby if you time travel back far enough you can avoid that work because the dust won't be there. You're too pretty to be working that hard.
            lol

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            • #7
              ha ha ha i love that ancient aliens show!!! it's a laff-a-minute.

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              • #8
                lemme just rummage through the old skull collection here...

                ...we'll whad'ya they are getting bigger.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Grumpycakes View Post
                  The introduction of agriculture coincides with a marked decrease in stature and bone health in ancient Mediterraneans.
                  Grumpy, do you have a reference for this? I agree with that statement, but I've been unsuccessful in finding scientific documentation on it.
                  "Go For Broke"
                  Fat Kine-230/24% @ 6'2"
                  Small Kine-168/9%
                  Now- 200/8%
                  Goal- 210/6%

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                  • #10
                    Very interesting link, I'll have to spend some time delving into that soon.
                    "Go For Broke"
                    Fat Kine-230/24% @ 6'2"
                    Small Kine-168/9%
                    Now- 200/8%
                    Goal- 210/6%

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                    • #11
                      Personally, I think that it is a kind of "artificial natural selection", just as butterphly01 mentioned. Babies with bigger heads have now more chances to survive at birth.

                      As for the diet component, animal proteins are well present in today's diet (I am speaking of the SAD). Exceptions are vegetarians (and strict vegans), however I think that a modern vegetarian has more knowledge of what is in the food they are eating than a neolitic vegetarian from 10.000 years ago. In other words, they know what to eat in order to get their daily amount of full proteins. Along with tons of carbs of course, but for that there's cronic cardio, isn't it?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by butterphly01 View Post
                        My husband is in school for anthropology, and he mentioned this the other day. He had learned about a theory that the increasing size of humans' skulls should have curbed the population growth, due to many babies not being able to be born vaginally (resulting in death of baby and mom, I assume). Yet, when we developed the c-section method, we were able to overcome this, and population continues to increase. Does this make sense? My husband explained it much more eloquently Interesting stuff, though.
                        I believe it. DS (and possibly me) would have died due to his off-the-chart head circumference if not for an emergency c-section. His head has been consistently well above normal but it's all in the back so you can't tell unless you look at him in profile. For the record, my diet was total CRAP when I was pg
                        Last edited by jes1014; 06-12-2012, 07:01 AM.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jes1014 View Post
                          I believe it. DS (and possibly me) would have died due to his off-the-chart head circumference if not for an emergency c-section. His head has been consistently well above normal but it's all in the back so you can't tell unless you look at him in profile. For the record, my diet was total CRAP when I was pg
                          That's interesting. But I assume -- despite the photograph that National Geographic has affixed to the report -- that these are skulls of adults not of infants at birth.

                          Maybe the circumference of adult skulls is getting larger, too, but that's just what they don't say. The only metric mentioned here is "height" of the skull:

                          New measurements of hundreds of skulls of white Americans born between 1825 and 1985 suggest that [the] typical ... height [of the skull] has [increased] by about a third of an inch (eight millimeters).
                          If one is going to measure a three-dimensional object at all why one would measure it in only one dimension -- and then go on to equate that measurement to the "size" of the object -- entirely escapes me. But there we are.

                          But why even stop at three measurements, which must surely be the minimum for any 3D object? Actually, I'd have supposed that, these days, if one thought it worth taking measurements of a complex natural form, be it a skull or a shell, that one would map it entirely in 3D-space using lasers and computers. Then there'd be a chance to look at the morphology in detail on a computer ... and even find out things you hadn't even thought of.

                          How about noses, for example? To go back to Weston Price. In Nutrition and Physical Degeneration there is, for example, this:



                          With the legend:

                          FIG. 14. This white boy was born and raised in Alaska on imported foods. His facial deformity includes a lack of development of the air passages, so that he breathes through his mouth. Lack of bone development creates the crowded condition of the teeth. Note his narrow nostrils.
                          So, for example, can any difference between the skulls of white Americans from 1825 to 1985 be seen in respect of the bones around the nasal cavities? Worse? Better? The same?

                          I mean Nutrition and Physical Degeneration is old stuff. It was published in 1939. Nowadays we should be looking at things in far more detail and using the latest technology -- but people are measuring the heights of skulls in one dimension with a pair calipers ... Good grief! That's science?

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                          • #14
                            it's national geographic, shouldn't that answer it all? That is one crummy mag. I used to subscribe but then i got fed up w/ their liberal slant in every damn article. That was years ago. Maybe it's changed.

                            and yeah i like your point about only measuring one direction.

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                            • #15
                              Perhaos this matches up with Dr. Weston Price's observations of less room in the pallet after adopting a western diet. A narrower, but taller skull?

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