Smartphones, a Culprit for Odd Bone Evolution in Humans

Smartphones, a Culprit for Odd Bone Evolution in Humans

Technology has definitely affected and is changing how we live--for better or for worse. It's ubiquitous and it's here to stay. For the hundreds of good things smartphones have done for us, they've also been known to cause depression in teenagers. Excessive use of iPads has caused some young children to struggle holding pens. These are definitely proof of physical consequences of using devices.

In addition to this, the consistent use of smartphones has apparently affected humans to the point that even our physiology is adapting, causing humans to evolve spikes at the back of their skulls.

External Occipital Protuberance

The spike-like growth in the skull called “external occipital protuberance” can be found at the base of the skull, just above the neck. It can be felt with the fingers in people with it, and it can even be seen in bald people.

When David Shahar of the University of The Sunshine Coast in Australia and his colleagues investigated thousands of X-ray skulls, they discovered that it was actually more prevalent than previously believed, and that it is most common in younger people. In fact, they found that one in four people aged 18 to 30 have the spike.

What does this mean?

Evolution Due To Smart Devices

In a BBC feature about how modern life is changing the human skeleton, Shahar explains that it is possible that our technology-oriented lifestyles have something to do with the growth of the spikes, particularly the increasingly common use of smart devices.

When people hunch down to look at their smartphones or tablets, our necks strain to hold the head in place, with the average head weighing 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds). This strain causes the body to lay down fresh layers of bone to cope with the extra stress and pressure, which then accumulates over time.

But why is this change happening now, when people have also been hunching down to work or read books in the past? The simple answer is that we spend so much more time on our devices than people used to read books. For instance, in the 1970s, the average American typically reads for two hours, while people nowadays spend almost double that amount of time on their devices.

Simply put, modern life is literally transforming us, one bone at a time.

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