Human horns: A historical review and clinical correlation

R. Shane Tubbs, Matthew D. Smyth, John C. Wellons, Jeffrey P. Blount, W. Jerry Oakes, Norman H. Horwitz, James Tait Goodrich, Edward R. Laws, Enrique Gerszten, Christopher B T Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Accounts of bony human horns originating from the cranium are found peppered throughout the early medical literature. This study reviews the extant literature regarding these entities to elucidate their authenticity. METHODS: We reviewed both historical and current literature as well as osteological material from our anatomy laboratories for accounts or observations of bony out-growths of the calvaria in humans. RESULTS: Human horns seem to be mentioned more frequently in the historical literature and are documented primarily with drawings. Moreover, from early accounts, it is often difficult to distinguish true large bony outgrowths from scalp excrescences. Only two cadaveric specimens from our laboratory were noted to have small anomalous bony protuberances, one on the occiput and one on the frontal bone. CONCLUSION: With the lack of either photographic or extreme dry specimen evidence of such human horns, we would propose that benign calvarial tumors, such as osteomas, may have initiated speculation that such entities, i.e., horns, exist in humans but that scalp lesions, exaggeration, legend, and religious beliefs have historically propagated these entities to a mythical status. In addition, early surgical intervention and changes in nomenclature may have also decreased the frequency of such sightings. Finally, many early descriptions have not been repeated in recent history, even in third-world countries lacking advanced medical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1443-1448
Number of pages6
JournalNeurosurgery
Volume52
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Horns
Scalp
Skull
Frontal Bone
Osteoma
Religion
Terminology
Developing Countries
Anatomy
History
Growth
Neoplasms

Keywords

  • Calvaria
  • Cranium
  • Exostoses
  • Horns
  • Skull

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery

Cite this

Tubbs, R. S., Smyth, M. D., Wellons, J. C., Blount, J. P., Oakes, W. J., Horwitz, N. H., ... Adams, C. B. T. (2003). Human horns: A historical review and clinical correlation. Neurosurgery, 52(6), 1443-1448.

Human horns : A historical review and clinical correlation. / Tubbs, R. Shane; Smyth, Matthew D.; Wellons, John C.; Blount, Jeffrey P.; Oakes, W. Jerry; Horwitz, Norman H.; Goodrich, James Tait; Laws, Edward R.; Gerszten, Enrique; Adams, Christopher B T.

In: Neurosurgery, Vol. 52, No. 6, 01.06.2003, p. 1443-1448.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tubbs, RS, Smyth, MD, Wellons, JC, Blount, JP, Oakes, WJ, Horwitz, NH, Goodrich, JT, Laws, ER, Gerszten, E & Adams, CBT 2003, 'Human horns: A historical review and clinical correlation', Neurosurgery, vol. 52, no. 6, pp. 1443-1448.
Tubbs RS, Smyth MD, Wellons JC, Blount JP, Oakes WJ, Horwitz NH et al. Human horns: A historical review and clinical correlation. Neurosurgery. 2003 Jun 1;52(6):1443-1448.
Tubbs, R. Shane ; Smyth, Matthew D. ; Wellons, John C. ; Blount, Jeffrey P. ; Oakes, W. Jerry ; Horwitz, Norman H. ; Goodrich, James Tait ; Laws, Edward R. ; Gerszten, Enrique ; Adams, Christopher B T. / Human horns : A historical review and clinical correlation. In: Neurosurgery. 2003 ; Vol. 52, No. 6. pp. 1443-1448.
@article{a9c1371a05e44d66b6a292e8092cc012,
title = "Human horns: A historical review and clinical correlation",
abstract = "OBJECTIVE: Accounts of bony human horns originating from the cranium are found peppered throughout the early medical literature. This study reviews the extant literature regarding these entities to elucidate their authenticity. METHODS: We reviewed both historical and current literature as well as osteological material from our anatomy laboratories for accounts or observations of bony out-growths of the calvaria in humans. RESULTS: Human horns seem to be mentioned more frequently in the historical literature and are documented primarily with drawings. Moreover, from early accounts, it is often difficult to distinguish true large bony outgrowths from scalp excrescences. Only two cadaveric specimens from our laboratory were noted to have small anomalous bony protuberances, one on the occiput and one on the frontal bone. CONCLUSION: With the lack of either photographic or extreme dry specimen evidence of such human horns, we would propose that benign calvarial tumors, such as osteomas, may have initiated speculation that such entities, i.e., horns, exist in humans but that scalp lesions, exaggeration, legend, and religious beliefs have historically propagated these entities to a mythical status. In addition, early surgical intervention and changes in nomenclature may have also decreased the frequency of such sightings. Finally, many early descriptions have not been repeated in recent history, even in third-world countries lacking advanced medical care.",
keywords = "Calvaria, Cranium, Exostoses, Horns, Skull",
author = "Tubbs, {R. Shane} and Smyth, {Matthew D.} and Wellons, {John C.} and Blount, {Jeffrey P.} and Oakes, {W. Jerry} and Horwitz, {Norman H.} and Goodrich, {James Tait} and Laws, {Edward R.} and Enrique Gerszten and Adams, {Christopher B T}",
year = "2003",
month = "6",
day = "1",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "52",
pages = "1443--1448",
journal = "Neurosurgery",
issn = "0148-396X",
publisher = "Lippincott Williams and Wilkins",
number = "6",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Human horns

T2 - A historical review and clinical correlation

AU - Tubbs, R. Shane

AU - Smyth, Matthew D.

AU - Wellons, John C.

AU - Blount, Jeffrey P.

AU - Oakes, W. Jerry

AU - Horwitz, Norman H.

AU - Goodrich, James Tait

AU - Laws, Edward R.

AU - Gerszten, Enrique

AU - Adams, Christopher B T

PY - 2003/6/1

Y1 - 2003/6/1

N2 - OBJECTIVE: Accounts of bony human horns originating from the cranium are found peppered throughout the early medical literature. This study reviews the extant literature regarding these entities to elucidate their authenticity. METHODS: We reviewed both historical and current literature as well as osteological material from our anatomy laboratories for accounts or observations of bony out-growths of the calvaria in humans. RESULTS: Human horns seem to be mentioned more frequently in the historical literature and are documented primarily with drawings. Moreover, from early accounts, it is often difficult to distinguish true large bony outgrowths from scalp excrescences. Only two cadaveric specimens from our laboratory were noted to have small anomalous bony protuberances, one on the occiput and one on the frontal bone. CONCLUSION: With the lack of either photographic or extreme dry specimen evidence of such human horns, we would propose that benign calvarial tumors, such as osteomas, may have initiated speculation that such entities, i.e., horns, exist in humans but that scalp lesions, exaggeration, legend, and religious beliefs have historically propagated these entities to a mythical status. In addition, early surgical intervention and changes in nomenclature may have also decreased the frequency of such sightings. Finally, many early descriptions have not been repeated in recent history, even in third-world countries lacking advanced medical care.

AB - OBJECTIVE: Accounts of bony human horns originating from the cranium are found peppered throughout the early medical literature. This study reviews the extant literature regarding these entities to elucidate their authenticity. METHODS: We reviewed both historical and current literature as well as osteological material from our anatomy laboratories for accounts or observations of bony out-growths of the calvaria in humans. RESULTS: Human horns seem to be mentioned more frequently in the historical literature and are documented primarily with drawings. Moreover, from early accounts, it is often difficult to distinguish true large bony outgrowths from scalp excrescences. Only two cadaveric specimens from our laboratory were noted to have small anomalous bony protuberances, one on the occiput and one on the frontal bone. CONCLUSION: With the lack of either photographic or extreme dry specimen evidence of such human horns, we would propose that benign calvarial tumors, such as osteomas, may have initiated speculation that such entities, i.e., horns, exist in humans but that scalp lesions, exaggeration, legend, and religious beliefs have historically propagated these entities to a mythical status. In addition, early surgical intervention and changes in nomenclature may have also decreased the frequency of such sightings. Finally, many early descriptions have not been repeated in recent history, even in third-world countries lacking advanced medical care.

KW - Calvaria

KW - Cranium

KW - Exostoses

KW - Horns

KW - Skull

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0038617610&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0038617610&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Article

C2 - 12762889

AN - SCOPUS:0038617610

VL - 52

SP - 1443

EP - 1448

JO - Neurosurgery

JF - Neurosurgery

SN - 0148-396X

IS - 6

ER -