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Concept: Occipital bone


Recently we reported the development of prominent exostosis young adults' skulls (41%; 10-31 mm) emanating from the external occipital protuberance (EOP). These findings contrast existing reports that large enthesophytes are not seen in young adults. Here we show that a combination sex, the degree of forward head protraction (FHP) and age predicted the presence of enlarged EOP (EEOP) (n = 1200, age 18-86). While being a male and increased FHP had a positive effect on prominent exostosis, paradoxically, increase in age was linked to a decrease in enthesophyte size. Our latter findings provide a conundrum, as the frequency and severity of degenerative skeletal features in humans are associated typically with aging. Our findings and the literature provide evidence that mechanical load plays a vital role in the development and maintenance of the enthesis (insertion) and draws a direct link between aberrant loading of the enthesis and related pathologies. We hypothesize EEOP may be linked to sustained aberrant postures associated with the emergence and extensive use of hand-held contemporary technologies, such as smartphones and tablets. Our findings raise a concern about the future musculoskeletal health of the young adult population and reinforce the need for prevention intervention through posture improvement education.

Concepts: Biology, Prediction, Future, Occipital bone, Bones of the head and neck, Inion, Squama occipitalis, External occipital protuberance


The lambeosaurine Tsintaosaurus spinorhinus has traditionally been reconstructed with an elevated, hollow, spike-like crest composed entirely of the nasal bones, although this has been disputed. Here, we provide a new reconstruction of the skull of this species based on reexamination and reinterpretation of the morphology and articular relationships of the type and Paratype skulls and a fragmentary crest. We confirm the presence of a supracranial crest composed of the elevated nasal bones, but also including the premaxillae. We hypothesize that the crest is a tall, lobate, hollow structure that projects dorsally and slightly caudally a distance greater than the height of the skull along the quadrate. In our reconstruction, the nasal passage passes through the crest, but enters the skull rostral to the tubular process of the nasals, not through it. Tsintaosaurus spinorhinus is rediagnosed on the basis of a suite of cranial autapomorphies including a circumnarial fossa subdivided into three accessory fossae, prefrontal with ascending rostral process and lateral flange, nasals fused sagittally to form elongate tubular process that rises dorsally from skull roof, each nasal being expanded rostrocaudally into a rhomboid distal process, and medial processes of premaxillae at the summit of the cranial crest inserted between rhomboid processes of nasals. Tsintaosaurus spinorhinus lacks characters that are present in more derived lambeosaurines (parasaurolophins and lambeosaurins), such as rotation of the caudal margin of the crest to an acute angle with the skull roof, lateral processes of the nasals that enclose part of the intracranial cavity and participate in the formation of the walls of the common median chamber, and a smooth narial fossa lacking ridges and accessory fossae. We hypothesize that ancestrally the rostrum of lambeosaurines may have been more similar to that in Saurolophinae, and became subsequently reduced in complexity during evolution of the group.

Concepts: Snake scales, Skull, Anatomy, Anatomical terms of location, Occipital bone, Animal anatomy, Skull and Bones, Vomer


Before their disappearance from the fossil record approximately 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals, the ancient hominin lineage most closely related to modern humans, interbred with ancestors of present-day humans. The legacy of this gene flow persists through Neanderthal-derived variants that survive in modern human DNA; however, the neural implications of this inheritance are uncertain. Here, using MRI in a large cohort of healthy individuals of European-descent, we show that the amount of Neanderthal-originating polymorphism carried in living humans is related to cranial and brain morphology. First, as a validation of our approach, we demonstrate that a greater load of Neanderthal-derived genetic variants (higher “NeanderScore”) is associated with skull shapes resembling those of known Neanderthal cranial remains, particularly in occipital and parietal bones. Next, we demonstrate convergent NeanderScore-related findings in the brain (measured by gray- and white-matter volume, sulcal depth, and gyrification index) that localize to the visual cortex and intraparietal sulcus. This work provides insights into ancestral human neurobiology and suggests that Neanderthal-derived genetic variation is neurologically functional in the contemporary population.

Concepts: Nervous system, DNA, Brain, Human, Cerebrum, Skull, Neanderthal, Occipital bone


Two early Late Pleistocene (~105,000- to 125,000-year-old) crania from Lingjing, Xuchang, China, exhibit a morphological mosaic with differences from and similarities to their western contemporaries. They share pan-Old World trends in encephalization and in supraorbital, neurocranial vault, and nuchal gracilization. They reflect eastern Eurasian ancestry in having low, sagittally flat, and inferiorly broad neurocrania. They share occipital (suprainiac and nuchal torus) and temporal labyrinthine (semicircular canal) morphology with the Neandertals. This morphological combination reflects Pleistocene human evolutionary patterns in general biology, as well as both regional continuity and interregional population dynamics.

Concepts: Human, Species, Skull, Anatomy, Neanderthal, Occipital bone, Human evolution, Pleistocene


Although robust algorithms for registration and segmentation are available, the majority of surgical approaches to the temporal bone are nowadays made without navigation assistance. Beside instrument navigation (IN), functions such as distance control (DC) and navigated control (NC) can be used. This study analyzes the application of these navigation functionalities in lateral skull base and middle ear surgery.

Concepts: Medicine, Physician, Skull, Al-Andalus, Middle ear, Temporal bone, Occipital bone, Squamosal


We describe a new computer reconstruction to obtain complete anatomical information of the ecto- and endocranium from the imperfectly preserved skull of the Neanderthal Amud 1.

Concepts: Skull, Anatomical terms of location, Occipital bone, Skull roof, Animal anatomy, Craniometry


Disruption or embryologic derailment of the normal bony architecture of the craniovertebral junction (CVJ) may result in symptoms. As studies of the embryology and pathology of hypoplasia of the occipital condyles and third occipital condyles are lacking in the literature, the present review was performed. Standard search engines were accessed and queried for publications regarding hypoplastic occipital condyles and third occipital condyles. The literature supports the notion that occipital condyle hypoplasia and a third occipital condyle are due to malformation or persistence of the proatlas, respectively. The Pax-1 gene is most likely involved in this process. Clinically, condylar hypoplasia may narrow the foramen magnum and lead to lateral medullary compression. Additionally, this maldevelopment can result in transient vertebral artery compression secondary to posterior subluxation of the occiput. Third occipital condyles have been associated with cervical canal stenosis, hypoplasia of the dens, transverse ligament laxity, and atlanto-axial instability causing acute and chronic spinal cord compression. Treatment goals are focused on craniovertebral stability. A better understanding of the embryology and pathology related to CVJ anomalies is useful to the clinician treating patients presenting with these entities. Clin. Anat., 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Medical terms, Vertebral column, Skull, Normal distribution, Vertebral artery, Occipital bone, Medulla oblongata, Foramen magnum


Purpose: To evaluate the potential of routine assessment of intracranial translucency (IT) and other posterior brain parameters in the early detection of open spina bifida during the 11 - 14 weeks screening examination. Materials and Methods: This prospective, multicenter longitudinal study was conducted with the participation of 20 certified DEGUM II or III experts in Berlin, Germany, between June 2010 and October 2013. All pregnant women undergoing a first trimester screening were included in the study and in every patient were the IT, brain stem (BS), cisterna magna (CM), BS to occipital bone distance (BSOB) and BS/BSOB ratio measured. All patients with continuing pregnancy underwent a second trimester scan. Our data was used to develop our own reference ranges. The primary outcome parameter was the presence of open spina bifida. Results: A total of 15 526 women with 16 164 fetuses were examined. Median of the IT was 2.1 mm, of the CM 1.6 mm, of the BS 2.7 mm, of the BSOB 5.5 mm, and of the BS/BSOB ratio 0.49. There were 11 cases with open spina bifida (incidence of 6.8/10 000). The detection rate was 100 % and in all cases of spina bifida, the anomaly was detected either at the first examination (n = 8) or considered suspicious and the lesion then detected a few weeks later (n = 3). Considering individual measurements, however, the detection rate was 18 % with the complete absence of the IT and 45 % with cut-off values. For the CM measurement, the detection rate was 64 % with the absence of the CM and 73 % with cut-off values. The other parameters proved not to be predictive of open spina bifida. Conclusion: In the hands of an expert, open spina bifida can be reliably diagnosed early in gestation during the 11 - 14 weeks screening. The measurement of different parameters of the posterior brain, especially the CM and the use of cut-off values are of tremendous benefit in achieving a high sensitivity in the detection rate.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Embryo, Fetus, Uterus, Measurement, Skull, Occipital bone, Spina bifida


Priming reflects an important means of learning that is mediated by implicit memory. Importantly, priming occurs for previously viewed objects (item-specific priming) and their category relatives (category-wide priming). Two distinct neural mechanisms are known to mediate priming, including the sharpening of a neural object representation and the retrieval of stimulus-response mappings. Here, we investigated whether the relationship between these neural mechanisms could help explain why item-specific priming generates faster responses than category-wide priming. Participants studied pictures of everyday objects, and then performed a difficult picture identification task while we recorded event-related potentials (ERP). The identification task gradually revealed random line segments of previously viewed items (Studied), category exemplars of previously viewed items (Exemplar), and items that were not previously viewed (Unstudied). Studied items were identified sooner than Unstudied items, showing evidence of item-specific priming, and importantly Exemplar items were also identified sooner than Unstudied items, showing evidence of category-wide priming. Early activity showed sustained neural suppression of parietal activity for both types of priming. However, these neural suppression effects may have stemmed from distinct processes because while category-wide neural suppression was correlated with priming behavior, item-specific neural suppression was not. Late activity, examined with response-locked ERPs, showed additional processes related to item-specific priming including neural suppression in occipital areas and parietal activity that was correlated with behavior. Together, we conclude that item-specific and category-wide priming are mediated by separate, parallel neural mechanisms in the context of the current paradigm. Temporal differences in behavior are determined by the timecourses of these distinct processes.

Concepts: Memory, Paradigm, Snake scales, Skull, Occipital bone, Implicit memory, Priming, Exemplar


The Ceprano calvarium was discovered in fragments on March 1994 near the town of Ceprano in southern Latium (Italy), embedded in Middle Pleistocene layers. After reconstruction, its morphological features suggests that the specimen belongs to an archaic variant of H. heidelbergensis, representing a proxy for the last common ancestor of the diverging clades that respectively led to H. neanderthalensis and H. sapiens. Unfortunately, the calvarium was taphonomically damaged. The postero-lateral vault, in particular, appears deformed and this postmortem damage may have influenced previous interpretations. Specifically, there is a depression on the fragmented left parietal, while the right cranial wall is warped and angulated. This deformation affected the shape of the occipital squama, producing an inclination of the transverse occipital torus. In this paper, after X-ray microtomography (μCT) of both the calvarium and several additional fragments, we analyze consistency and pattern of the taphonomic deformation that affected the specimen, before the computer-assisted retrodeformation has been performed; this has also provided the opportunity to reappraise early attempts at restoration. As a result, we offer a revised interpretation for the Ceprano calvarium’s original shape, now free from the previous uncertainties, along with insight for its complex depositional and taphonomic history.

Concepts: Human, Common descent, Neanderthal, Occipital bone, Human evolution, Pleistocene, Homo erectus, Squama occipitalis