The Skull of a Child

The following caption, as well as the photo, is courtesy of io9:

Inside the mouth of every child is a terrifying double row of teeth. Not that you’d ever know it — muscle, skin and bone prevent most of us from ever catching a glimpse of this extra dentition. Here’s your chance to get a close-up look at what lies beyond the gum line.

On some level, most people probably recognize that a child’s erupting permanent teeth have to be situated more or less right on top of their smaller predecessors, in order to dissolve their roots and ultimately replace them (a process known as exfoliation).

What many fail to appreciate, however, is just how little room there is for exfoliation to take place. This picture [click for hi-res], taken by photographer Stefan Schäfer at the Hunterian Museum in London, reveals several permanent teeth crammed into a space so small, it almost looks like they’re burrowing outward in a bid to escape from the skull entirely — the front teeth via the eye and nasal cavities, the lower teeth by way of the jawline.

Stare at it too long, in fact, and the skull’s primary teeth almost start to resemble a set of pharyngeal jaws. Wonderful. Now I’ll never be able to look at a child again without thinking about xenomorph dentition. Biology: Not only is it fascinating, it’s also high-octane nightmare fuel.

It’s strange to think that this is what lies beneath the face of every child I see or talk to. It’s hard to remember that within our flesh is this otherwise alien-looking thing.

2 comments on “The Skull of a Child

  1. Reblogged this on Manjree's Blog and commented:
    This post took me back to my human osteology days! On another note, it’s interesting how there is an obvious similarity between the skull and dentition of a juvenile skeleton and the artistic recreation of what aliens look like (called skitters) in the American tv series FALLING SKIES…

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