Appreciating the “First” Skull’s Development

skull_diagramAppreciating the “First” Skull’s Development

What makes up a 2nd Skull? Well that’s easy: a 2 millimeter-thin impact protection skull cap, anti-microbial/anti-odor material and more. What makes up an actual skull? The answer’s a little more complicated, depending on your age.

The human skull is an engineering marvel, designed to protect one of the body’s most crucial organs: the brain. We’ve decided to create a “2nd Skull” to help protect the head from violent impacts, but we also can’t help but appreciate the complexity and beauty of “first” skull and how it develops. It turns out that even in nature, extra padding does the cranium good.

Two Types of Bones

The human skull has two different types of bones that serve two different purposes: cranial bones and facial bones. While the eight cranial bones in the skull protect the brain and sensory organs (such as the inner ear), the 14 facial bones (which include the teeth) form the features of your face. It is the interaction between these two types of bones that results in a fully formed, adult skull.

In Early Development

When cranial bones first form during fetus development, they’re slightly softer than normal bone – this is so that the head can fit through the birth canal safely during childbirth. At birth, the cranial bones are linked together with soft fibers, and at about one year of age, the fibers in the skull disappear as the cranial bones begin to fuse together.

It’s also common for gaps (commonly known as “soft spots”) to form as protective tissue fades away and hard bone forms.

In Childhood

While the softness of the skull usually means that as a parent, you have to be extra careful until age 18 months or so, that same pliability also allows a child’s skull to rapidly expand during this period as the brain grows to its adult size. The lack of a completely fused skull also allows natural changes in the shape of the skull to occur and for the permanent skull to fuse between the ages of 20 months and two years.

As our children develop, we can see that the body takes its own measures to protect the skull, by growing even more pliable tissue during important transition periods. And as children grow into their adult bodies, that tissue dissolves, leaving a completely healthy adult skull.

As an Adult

The fully formed adult human skull is formed from fused skull bones, with all remaining soft spots covered with expanding cranial bone. Although at this stage, it is considered a “full grown” skull, the seams between the bones of the skull do not completely fuse together until about age 20. Finally, the occipital bone at the base of the skull will form a complex joint with the atlas (the first vertebrae of the neck) allowing the rotation and bending of the head.

Although the fully formed adult human skull goes through many stages of development to build up to its full strength, it still isn’t engineered to consistently sustain violent impact throughout its lifetime. Your young athlete might not have a vulnerable “soft spot” anymore, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to protect – especially when a linebacker’s coming their way.