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

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 …

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Anonymous Coward

Bigger heads....

... and not getting taller ..... but getting wider...

Sounds more like Jabba the Hutt than the Mekon if you ask me

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bigger heads....

In my experience everything is getting bigger in the USA, people are 'bigger' , heads are 'bigger' and ego's are bigger.

But 'bigger' is not always better!

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Anonymous Coward

Pub cricket

While in Las Vegas, was had a family competition, a little like pub cricket, the game you can play while driving in the car.

We called it, SPOT THE SALAD DODGER...

In the space of 30 minutes walking between the New York and the Venitian we scored 368 runs between us.

Single fat person- one run

Two fat people together- a four

Four fat people together- six

Two thin people together- out.

And multiples there of...

I scored my first century in a matter of minutes

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pub cricket

You could have played that in any UK town (and if out in the evening, you could have played the variant "spot the drunk FB".

Waste of an air fare to fly 7,000 miles to do it in Vegas.

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Joke

Re: Bigger heads....

WRONG.

Bigger is better you tiny little man. It says so in our Constitution.

Brought to you from the U.S.A.

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TRT
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Re: Bigger heads....

Great! In the future we'll all be getting more head. Although surely women must be getting wider down there...

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Happy

Re: Re: Bigger heads....

Yes, certain parts of the male anatomy...

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Make sense

Americans are known for their superior intellect.

Maybe it's a massive overgrowth in the "mindless subservience" hemisphere.

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Anonymous Coward

Superior intellect?

You've got to be pulling my leg, I nearly choked on my gherkin...

Please say that was a joke!

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Trollface

Re: Superior intellect?

Oh the irony!

Only a merkin muchin' a gherkin could ask for the joke to be explained.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Superior intellect?

Ah but to even suggest they have a superior intellect.......

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Holmes

Or conversely,

"USA was settled by disproportionally small-minded people," with the measure now reverting back to long-term average.

//And any danger in extrapolating to 5x the data's range? Nah.

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FAIL

Re: Make sense

>Americans are known for their superior intellect.

Brought to by Carl Jr's Big Ass Fries tm. Idiocracy makes a lot more sense than this garbage. Still thank goodness for IQ being one of those traits that push towards the mean regardless of parents genetics (ie two stupid people or two smart people children tend to move towards the average) or else we would be putting Brawdo on our crops.

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Not the Mekon's body shape though

The Mekon's body was shrunken and spindly. By 300AD the average US body shape will approximate to a sphere.

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Coat

Re: Not the Mekon's body shape though

Most northern Americans were probably quite lean in 300 AD. It might have had something to do with living in stone-age nomadic cultures...

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Of many explanations

The fact that a large head is less likely to indicate for increased maternal mortality in a well off society is one of them....

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Re: Of many explanations

Very true, but perhaps unnecessary.

A height increase of 5.6% is mentioned over the same period. (The article says this has stopped in recent years, but there's no evidence that the head increases haven't stopped, too.) That's a volumetric increase of 17%, which on an average modern brain size of 1260 cm3 (wikipedia) would be an increase of 190cm3 from an inferred 19th century value of 1070cm3.

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Boffin

My money is on...

... the fact that we can now check the size of a baby's head well before it gets stuck in the mother's pelvis and do a C-section, saving both.

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Mushroom

Their is an easy remedy...

Make them watch "Fox News" their brains will shrink rather than grow.

http://publicmind.fdu.edu/2011/knowless/

Nuke icon 'cause We're all dooooomed!!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Their is an easy remedy...

Fox News?! <shudder>

Who piddled in your Post Toasties?

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Boffin

Unlikely to be evolution

Isn't this more likely to be due to improved diet than evolution?

Up until the last century, greater intelligence would have given an evolutionary advantage; and this may still be the case in undeveloped countries. But I would argue that in the developed West, including America, intelligence is no longer a trait that leads to successful breeding.

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Re: Unlikely to be evolution

Indeed, the opposite is really true now, as we all know from the pending Idiocracy.

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Re: Unlikely to be evolution

Isn't this more likely to be due to improved diet than evolution?

That depends on whether you think a diet full of growth hormones is an improvement.

It might even be why there's a difference between American and European rates of change

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_hormone_controversy

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Re: Unlikely to be evolution

"intelligence is no longer a trait that leads to successful breeding"

Actually lack of intellience is a trait for successful breeding. To bring children up properly is expensive and time consuming so smart people usually plan for it and thus have one or two children.

Morons just get drunk or stoned and shag anything with a pulse. The government then supports their children instead of letting them starve to death from neglect.

Religious nutters believe that God wants them to keep breeding more and more 'Sheep' so end up with eight to ten god fearing children (pick any religion as they're all the same)

I think the growing American head is due to the growing ego, not the growing IQ

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Re: Unlikely to be evolution

Probably more likely due to the advent of caesareans, and the removal of the evolutionary pressure of big headed babies killing themselves and their mother at birth?

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The evolutionary advantage of higher intellect seems to be very flimsy, and 100 years is just 5 generations or so. There's no way evolution has any measurable effect on something so poorly correlated to reproduction in just 5 generations. It's probably due to diet or medicines or something like that.

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Relaxed evolution...

... in the light of massively reduced infant mortality might explain it.

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Re: Relaxed evolution...

Not in 5 generations, and not for something this subtle. Evolution can be fast, but only when there's spectacular selective pressure (like, a deadly virus or a genocide).

That said, I like the infant mortality explanation. Big-headed babies are less likely to die at birth today. I just think that the observed increase is almost entirely explainable as a statistical effect, not an evolutionary one. I.e. the same number of big-headed babies are conceived as a century ago, but more of them survive birth today. This can cause an evolutionary effect so that more big-headed babies are actually conceived, but it would take hundreds of generations.

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Joke

Evolution at its finest

A larger skull structure is needed to hold that oh so manly square jaw.

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Anonymous Coward

Environmental, Not Evolutionary

Something has affected head size the same way diet affected height. Humans haven't evolved to be any taller since we were cavemen. In fact palaeolithic humans on a largely fatty, meat based diet were quite tall, with heights comparable to today. It was during the switch to a neolithic diet largely composed of grains and vegetables with sparing amounts of meat and dairy that caused height to take a nosedive until the 20th century. Since we now can all afford to eat whatever we want, with ample amounts of marconutrients even in the worst junk food diet, that height has probably stopped increasing generation by generation. The same will no doubt happen for head size.

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Mushroom

It's all those 32oz sodas

The bubbles don't just go down.

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"They found that in that time skull capacity had increased by 200 cubic centimetres for men in the sample, equivalent "to the size of a tennis ball". 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 centimetres."

If I read this correctly, in women the skull capacity increased by 7mm while the body has increased by 180 cubic centimetres. That accounts for all the fat American ladies.

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Anonymous Coward

"skull capacity increased by 7mm "

Looks like European brains are shrinking.

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Gimp

Predators and prey tend to evolve in tandem, so...

This fits perfectly with last week's first appearance of a bona fide zombie attack in Miami!

Metal mask icon because its the only thing that will save my braaaaaaains

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Joke

extra tennis ball...

of fat?

Oooh, low blow.

:)

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Coat

The mekon

Is it just me, or did the mekon always have really cool t shirts?

In other news: shrinking EU brains shown to decrease ability to hold attention.

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Re: The mekon

I want to know how the shirts fit over the Mekons' head - impossible unless it was an inflatable head

ttfn.

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Facepalm

Re: The mekon

Well quite obviously the Treens invented Lycra.

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Anonymous Coward

I do belive...

...there may be some failed reasoning in this study...

http://xkcd.com/605/

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Happy

More likely...

...some (deliberate and obvious, for comedic effect) failed reasoning in The Register's reporting on the study.

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Very Good News

Well, if the human brain were getting larger, that would be very good news.

It doesn't even have to complicate childbirth. If our brains just kept on growing at the same rate, rather than slowing down their rate of growth when we are two years old, we could have our heads stay the same size at birth, and yet have much larger brains as adults.

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Re: Very Good News

Perhaps this accounts for the US C-section rate (currently >30% and rising), though I suspect a desire to maximise medical fees may have more to do with it.

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Joke

Size doesn't matter, it's what you do with it

had to be said

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Re: Very Good News

Oh it comes down to this silly practice. Once a women has one c-section, all of her kids after that will be delivered by c-section. They don't even check to see if it's necessary. It comes down to well thats they way we have always done it .

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Re: Very Good News

My first born had to be delivered via C-section. After ~30 hours in labor, they realized he was stuck and his cranium was too large for the opening in the pelvic bone. He was around 33k USD.

My second born was recommended C-section because of the cutting damage after the first. Of course, that one was also ~50k USD, so you might be correct.

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Will we

as a species make it to 3000AD?

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Mushroom

Re: Will we

No. I mean, yes. I mean, no. I mean, yeah but no but yeah.

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ElReg muses ...

... "It's not clear what the extra tennis ball of space has been filled with."

Sinuses. The pollen count is astronomical this year ...

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Boffin

Back in the real world....

Of course this study is on brain VOLUME. Not inteligence. There is a well-studied and well-known LACK of corelatlon between the two, both within humanity and across a wider range of species.

In short, having a fat head just means you have a fat head.

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A matter of balance

As butt sizes increase the head size will have to follow.

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