SKULL APPRECIATION DAY (week)!! Day 6- Skull pathologies

June 9, 2012

For the penultimate day of our Skull Appreciation Day (week) we are going to have a chat about skulls that are out of the ordinary.  This topic was suggested by Dr. Bones DLC on twitter and it is another suggestion with which we wholeheartedly agree!  We have also been involved in the research of pathological skulls and we can say with confidence that it is the coolest job around!

Obviously we can’t talk about all the things that can go wrong in a skull, so we figured the best way to represent these cool skulls was to find some pics of some interesting pathologies.

Now before we go any further with this guy, we need to say that we couldn’t for the life of us find the original source of this pic- it did the reddit rounds a while ago so is on a few blogs, but if you know of the original owner please let us know!  As the label suggests, it is an example of an osteosarcoma– basically a bone cancer.  As you probably guessed, the affected region is the ‘fluffy’ looking bone around the orbit (eye hole).  It is estimated that 8% of osteosarcomas are located in the skull.

This pic is from Speltz et al, 2004 and depicts just a couple of the many different head shapes that can result from craniosynostosis– the premature fusion of the cranial sutures.  Basically, the this means that the sutures, which are the places where the skull grows, grow over with bone.  This causes the skull to become malformed as it is stretched in an abnormal direction to accommodate the rapidly growing brain.

This pic shows an unfortunate skull with a rather serious case of hydrocephaly.  Hydrocephalus is caused by a build up of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull with the increased volume in the head causing the bones of the skull to become enlarged.

If you have a favourite (probably wrong word for it…) disordered or malformed skull, send us a pic!


  1. Damn! !

  2. the first skull is gorgeous. pretty and weird. wow.

    • It is amazing how beautiful cancer can be! It looks like you could reach out and pat it and it would be soft… although that might end up like the time we saw a cactus that looked soft….. not a good idea!

  3. The sarcoma example might be from the collection at the Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen.

    • I might have to travel to Copenhagen and have a look in person then! Thanks!

  4. I just found this post by chance. And I can tell you that this specimen is indeed in Copenhagen. It’s part of our collection at the Medical Museion 🙂

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