X-Message-Number: 27548
Date: Sun, 29 Jan 2006 16:29:37 -0800 (PST)
From: Doug Skrecky <>
Subject: substitute cryonics for "internal combustion engine"

[I'm wondering if perhaps it was a lack of brain power which delayed the
invention of technology, homo sapiens has been around for over 100,000
years, yet the internal combustion engine is only a few centuries old.]

Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 January 2006, 09:12 GMT

By Rebecca Morelle
BBC News science reporter

Our ancestors had more prominent features but lower foreheads

Researchers have found that the shape of the human skull has changed
significantly over the past 650 years.

Modern people possess less prominent features but higher foreheads than
our medieval ancestors.

Writing in the British Dental Journal, the team took careful
measurements of groups of skulls spanning across 30 generations.

The scientists said the differences between past and present skull
shapes were "striking".

Plague victims

The team used radiographic films of skulls to record extensive
measurements taken by a computer.

They looked at 30 skulls dating from the mid-14th Century. They had come
from the unlucky victims of the plague. The skulls had been excavated
from plague pits in the 1980s in London.

Another 54 skulls examined by the team were recovered from the wreck of
the Mary Rose which sank off the south coast of England in 1545.

All the skulls were compared with 31 recent orthodontic records from the
School of Dentistry in Birmingham.

 "This new research shows how bones... can provide more knowledge to the
scientific community, and ultimately the public"

Professor Robert Foley, Cambridge University

The two principal differences discovered were that our ancestors had
more prominent features, but their cranial vault - the distance measured
from the eyes to the top of the skull - was smaller.

Dr Peter Rock, lead author of the study and director of orthodontistry
at Birmingham University, told the BBC News website: "The astonishing
finding is the increased cranial vault heights.

"The increase is very considerable. For example, the vault height of the
plague skulls were 80mm, and the modern ones were 95mm - that's in the
order of 20% bigger, which is really rather a lot."

He suggests that the increase in size may be due to an increase in
mental capacity over the ages.

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