Feeds

White AMERICANS will have become MEKON brain-men by 3000AD

Heads growing as bodies stay the same size, say boffins

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Certain Americans' heads are getting larger at a "dramatic" rate, say researchers at the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennesse, citing a 6.8 per cent increase in skull length in the past 100 years across their sample.

At this rate, the heads of this group of Americans will have doubled in length sometime around 3000 AD. Conversely overall height increases seem to have levelled off. With body height remaining the same, this means that it is likely that some US citizens will resemble The Mekon, famous adversary of 1950s future British space hero Dan Dare, around the turn of the fourth millennium.

Americans heads will double in size, like the Mekons, credit:

The Mekon's head size appears disproportionate today but may be normal by 3000 AD.
Pic credit: Frank Hampson, Eagle Annual 1966.

The team of anthropologists led by husband and wife Richard and Lee Jantz measured the skulls of white Americans of European extraction, taking a selection of skulls from the late 1800s to about 1980. The anthropologists said they had measured white Americans because there were more skull samples available across a longer length of time. The same effect may well be taking place in other populations in the States as well.

They found that in that time skull capacity had increased by 200 cu­bic mil­lime­tres, a space equiv­a­lent to a cou­ple of small peas. The researchers found that the average height from the base to the top of the skull in men had increased by 8mm. In the women in the sample, the corresponding increases were 7mm and 180 cubic mil­lime­tres.

Overall height had increased by 5.6 per cent in the same period, and femur length had increased by 2 per cent, but researchers noted that this increase in overall height had slowed or stopped in recent years.

It's not just the Americans: the heads of Europeans are reportedly enlarging too, though at a slower rate.

Lee Jantz, coordinator of the University of Tennessee's Forensic Anthropology Center (FAC) attempted to explain the increases:

The varieties of changes that have swept American life make determining an exact cause an endlessly complicated proposition. It likely results from modified growth patterns because of better nutrition, lower infant and maternal mortality, less physical work, and a breakdown of former ethnic barriers to marriage. Which of these is paramount we do not know.

It's not clear what the extra few peas' worth of space has been filled with. Brains, one might hope. ®

The research was presented to the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Portland, and presented on the World Science site.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.