Horns Are Growing On Human Skulls, Say Australian Researchers, And Cell Phone Use Is To Blame

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Horns are growing out of human skulls, and Australian researchers say it’s the result of improper posture brought about by too much mobile device use, The Boston Globe reports.

Dr. David Shahar and his team at Australia’s Sunshine Coast University published their findings this week in the scientific journal Nature. Shahar’s team revealed that, in studying the skulls of an unknown number of patients, particularly of younger people, they’ve noticed that some are growing what appear to be horns.

A couple of points need to be made. First, no one has grown visible horns — yet; the “horns” can only be seen on x-rays by people who are specifically looking for them. Second, the “horns” are actually more akin to bone spurs, such as more typically appear on the feet. Bone spurs are considered large if they reach 3-5 millimeters (0.12 to 0.2 inches); by comparison, some of the protuberances observed by Dr. Shahar’s team have been in the 10-31 millimeter (0.39 to 1.22 inches) range.

So how does the use of mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablets, result in bone spurs that superficially resemble horns? It comes down to posture. Essentially, young people spend so much time with their heads tilted downward, in order to see what’s going on on the screens in front of them, that their bodies compensate by building up extra bone matter at the base of the skull, where ligaments and tendons attach.

Dr. Shahar’s team considers this the first documented evidence of modern technology visibly affecting human skeletal physiology.

And it doesn’t bode well for future generations, who are likely to spend even more time with their heads bent downward, staring at screens.

“An important question is what the future holds for the young adult populations in our study, when development of a degenerative process is evident in such an early stage of their lives?” the researchers write.

Having bone spurs on the back of the head is not a problem in and of itself, says study co-author Mark Sayers. Rather, it’s an indication that there are larger problems in the patient’s posture.

“[The formations are a] portent of something nasty going on elsewhere, a sign that the head and neck are not in the proper configuration,” he says.

This is not the only health issue related to mobile device use that the medical community has noticed. For some time, doctors have been warning of “text neck” — that is, a strain in the muscles in the back of the head and neck that typically hold the human head in the proper position. Similarly, some doctors are treating what they call “texting thumb” — a condition in the thumb that bears similarities to carpal tunnel syndrome.