Many years ago when I was a young boy, the carpenter’s union was mostly comprised of men of Scandinavian descent from Norway and Sweden. The other trades colloquially referred to them as square heads. Technically, square heads are called brachycephalic, which means that the head is as wide as it is long similar to a box. The bust on the left is perfect example of a famous square head. Rather than square, some European designs are dolichocephalic. Dolichocephalic heads have relatively longer bases and narrower widths.
In contrast to Asian designs, European skulls are also prognathic. Prognathic means protruding jaws. In Europeans skulls, the muzzle which contains the nose and jaw protrudes out from the face. In round Asian skulls the jaws and nose are in line with the face. Interestingly, northern Europeans have a much higher incidence of multiple sclerosis than Asians. On the other hand Asians get a variant form of MS called Devic’s disease. In addition, African-Americans also have a low incidence of MS but likewise get a particularly aggressive form of Devic’s disease.
If you strip away the flesh the square shape of the European skull becomes more apparent. The perfect replica cast skull on the right was copied with permission from Bone Clones Inc. The most telltale signs that indicate race are in the shape of the eyes and nose. In this case the eye openings are clearly square. Even more characteristic is the triangular shape of the nose. In Asian and African-American skulls the opening for the eyes and the aperture of the nose are rounder.
The previous post contained a picture of a severely artificially deformed skull. Among other things, the shape of the head affects the pitch and layout of the base of the skull and the venous drainage system of the brain. The length and width of the base of the skull affects the position of the brain within the cranial vault.
A short length in the base from the front to the back of the cranial vault, predisposes the brain to crowding and a condition called Chiari malformations in which the cerebellum or brainstem gets pushed down into the foramen magnum. Chiari malformations can block both venous blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pathways causing CCSVI and hydrocephalus type conditions. Chiari malformations used to be considered a childhood problem for the most part. Recently, however, studies show that trauma can cause Chiari malformations in adults. What’s more, Chiari malformations have also been associated with multiple sclerosis.
The graphic of the skull on the left shows the relative size of the large head compared to the relatively small human neck. In the ape the head is small and the neck is large. The body is also supported by four extremities and the head is much closer to the ground so slips and falls are less likely and the distance to the ground is much closer.
Humans on the other hand are tall and top-heavy and standing upright and balanced over a narrow base rooted in the feet is actually quite a feat. Upright posture makes it easier to fall and unfortunately in humans, the head has a further distance to the ground and so falls generate more force.
People living in northern climates are exposed to far more winter related whiplash type traumas than people living in southern climates. Motor vehicle accidents and winter sports and activities such as hockey, skiing and snow mobiles significantly increase the risk and the forces involved in trauma.
When it comes to MS and trauma, it’s not so much the size of the head that matters as it is how it stacks up on the cervical spine. Moreover, it is also how the brain stacks up over the large hole in the base of the skull called the foramen magnum. Brachycephalic, Asian and African designs, as well as skulls with short lengths in their base are more balanced on top of the cervical spine. On the other hand, they stack more of the brainstem over the foramen magnum. This predisposes the brainstem and cerebellum to getting pushed down, or sinking into the foramen in a Chiari malformation and or pressure conus type condition.
In brief, racial differences in the design of the skull may account for the higher incidence of classic multiple sclerosis seen in northern Europeans. It may further explain why Asian and African-Americans have a lower incidence of MS but get a more severe variant form called Devic’s disease also know as neuromyelitis optica (NMO). In the next post I will cover Asian and African-American skull designs.
For additional information on this and related topics visit my website at http://www.upright-health.com.