Are smartphones causing the next form of human evolution? Possibly…


 

It would seem like the next form of human evolution is coming as a result of using digital devices. A number of different mammals have sported bone spikes in their skeletons, but until recently, no one could figure out why. Especially humans. But, that was, until just this past week, when scientists published peer-reviewed research that shows that our recent generations have spouted bones that shouldn’t be there. Bones in our necks. Called “osteobiography,” this science shows that our bones are more “malleable” than we previously thought.

Text Neck Causing Human Evolution?

Called “text neck,” it’s become apparent that the time that we as humans spend on our digital devices are having more of an effect on our skeletons than we thought. And, the result is, according to the study, a new “bony spike” that “lives” at the base of our necks, where our spinal column meets our brains.

According to David Shahar, a University of The Sunshine Coast health scientist from Australia practitioner:

“I have been a clinician for 20 years, and only in the last decade, increasingly I have been discovering that my patients have this growth on the skull.”

According to Shahar, the lump that is a new bone growth with the scientific name of an “external occipital protuberance” (EOP) is actually palpable by hand in many cases in modern times, instead of via X-rays, as is normally the case. In fact, normally, EOPs are identified in the elderly.

How did they come to this conclusion? By looking at the X-rays of more than 1,200 adult Australians. According to the results of those images, about 41 percent of subjects who range between the ages of 18 and 30-years-old had grown the “bone spurs,” which is a complete 8 percent more than the average to date.

 

human evolution, bone spikes
Image by Shahar & Sayer, Scientific Reports, 2018 via Science Alert

The “bone spurs” were barely noticeable in some subjects. However, in others, they were so pronounced that they were noticeable without the X-rays because those subjects and their doctors could feel the bump on the back of their skulls where the skin and muscle covered the “spike.” Generally speaking, males are much more affected than females.

The protrusions are occurring at the base of the skull where ligaments and muscles attach to the skull. According to the report:

“Because it’s an attachment site, the location of the EOP is technically an enthesis. These places in our skeletons can be prone to the development of spiky bone growths called enthesophytes, typically in response to mechanical stress – for example, additional muscle strain.”

An “enthesis” is the tissue that resides between the muscle and ligaments. Although the EOPs have existed for decades that we know about in science (or longer), they’re becoming more prevalent in younger people. Previously, these protrusions were mostly visible in the elderly, which could lead to the hypothesis that smartphones are a conduit of human evolution.

This leads to the hypothesis that:

“These bones have become more noticeable since the dawn of our ‘hand held technological revolution’ and the sustained poor posture that our devices bring.”

Why ‘Text Neck?’

Because of the way our skeletons work, we can expect changes to take place whenever we stress it more than it expects. However, until now, this didn’t include the smartphone hypothesis, but now that it does, it could lead to the hypothesis that human evolution is happening right before our eyes.

We all know how much strain we feel when we look at our phones for more than a few minutes at a time. The science behind it is strong. For example, according to the report:

“The human head is heavy, weighing about 10 lbs. (4.5 kilograms), and tilting it forward to look at funny cat photos (or however you spend your smartphone time) can strain the neck – hence the crick people sometimes get, known as ‘text neck.'”

This so-called “text neck” can increase the stress on the ligaments and bone — the juncture where the muscles attach – leading to the body responding accordingly. In this case, “accordingly” could mean growing new bone so that the head is supported adequately.

According to the report:

“This spike distributes the weight of the head over a larger area.”

According to the Sunshine Coast of Australia researchers, those younger people who show evidence of this spike in their skulls show on average a growth of about 1 inch, but some subjects have shown growths up to about 1.5 inches long.

According to reports, this protrusion generally wasn’t seen in such young people just a decade before, which is even more evidence of human evolution — even is it does give way to the hypothesis that it’s happening as a result of digital interference.

According to a second study, Shahar and another scientist appeared to show that the new growths were more prevalent in people who were 18 – 30 years old. This is almost a complete turn around from previous studies, which showed the growths existed in the elderly.

Modern Life

It’s become more than obvious that our modern lives are having much more than an impact than we might have thought on our skeletons. Not only are we noticing more people with a prevalence of a spiky growth in our skulls, but we’re also noticing that human jaws are growing to be smaller in general. Not to mention that children from German descent have “narrower elbows than ever before.”

However, to date, studies have noticed that the so-called Text Neck is having more of an impact on our lives than we’d like to think. Is it genetics, or technology? Only time will tell, but for now, the studies show that technology may be the culprit.

 

Author’s note: After this peer-reviewed study was published, it was suggested that the study’s author “may” have a conflict of interest not initially revealed in the study itself. According to that report, the author sells posture-correcting pillows. Read the report and decide for yourself if it’s believable or not.

 

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Featured Image via Pixabay

 

 


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