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University of Tennessee anthropologists find American heads are getting larger
Date:5/30/2012

Jantz and Natalie Shirley, an adjunct assistant professor in the FAC, have found the bone is fusing much earlier 14 for girls and 16 for boys.

America's obesity epidemic is the latest development that could affect skeletal shape but its precise effects are unclear.

"This might affect skull shape by changing the hormonal environment, which in turn could affect timing of growth and maturation," said Richard Jantz. "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 research only assessed Americans of European ancestry because they provided the largest sample sizes to work with. Richard Jantz said changes in skeletal structure are taking place in many parts of the world, but tend to be less studied. He said research has uncovered shifts in skull shape in Europe though it is not as dramatic as seen in the U.S.

The findings were presented on April 14 in Portland, Ore. at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.


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Contact: Whitney Heins
wheins@utk.edu
865-974-5460
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Source:Eurekalert

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