How Modern Life Changes Our Bones

Posted by Ed 12 mths ago
From the emergence of a spiky growth at the back of some people’s skulls to the enigmatic finding that our elbows are getting narrower, our bones are changing in surprising ways

For an example of how osteobiography works, take the mystery of the “strong men” of Guam and the Mariana Islands. It began with the discovery of a male skeleton on the island of Tinian, which lies 1,600 miles (2,560km) east of the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean, in 1924. The remains were dated to the 16th or 17th Century, and they were positively gigantic. The man’s skull, arm bones, collarbones, and the bones of his lower legs suggested that he had been immensely strong and unusually tall.

The finding slotted in nicely with local legends of enormous ancient rulers, who had been capable of truly heroic physical feats. Archaeologists called him Taotao Tagga – “man of Tagga” – after the island’s famous mythological chief Taga, who was renowned for his super-human strength.

As other graves were discovered, it became clear that the first skeleton was no anomaly; in fact as well as fiction, Tinian and the surrounding islands had been home to a race of extraordinarily brawny men.

But where had they got their strength from?

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