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Americans Have Big Heads -- Literally

A new study is showing that Americans have big heads -- and they're growing. This is not to say that Americans are arrogant, but that literally the size of their skulls has gotten larger since the 1800s.

Researchers from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville studied the size of 1,500 skulls dating back to the mid-1800s through the mid-1980s and found that American's noggins have gotten not only larger but taller and narrower as well. According to the university website, forensic anthropologists Lee Jantz, Richard Jantz and Joanne Devlin who reviewed the skulls are unsure what exactly caused the relatively rapid growth but consider "modified growth patterns because of better nutrition, lower infant and maternal mortality, less physical work, and a breakdown of former ethnic barriers to marriage" factors.

They found the average height growth of the skull during this timeframe for men was about the size of a tennis ball (200 cubic centimeters). Women weren't too far behind with 180 cubic centimeters of growth.

The researchers also believe they have observed the skull fusing earlier, hinting at younger maturation. They also wonder whether the rise in obesity will further influence skull growth in the future.

“This might affect skull shape by changing the hormonal environment, which in turn could affect timing of growth and maturation,” Richard Jantz said in a statement. “We know it has an effect on the long bones by increasing muscle attachment areas, increasing arthritis at certain joints, especially the knee, and increasing the weight bearing capacity.”

The researchers only reviewed skulls of Americans with European descent for sample size reasons. The team also points out that previous research of European skulls have shown that the changes in shape are not as dramatic as those seen in Americans.

Read more details about the research here.

[H/T Daily Mail]

Featured image via Shutterstock. 

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