The Golden Ratio, described by Leonardo da Vinci and Luca Pacioli as the Divine Proportion, has been observed in the human skull in a new study.
The Golden Ratio, otherwise known as the Fibonacci Sequence or the Divine Proportion, is an infinite number often found in nature, art and mathematics. It’s a pattern in pinecones, seashells, galaxies and hurricanes.
In a new study investigating whether skull shape follows the Golden Ratio (1.618 … ), Johns Hopkins researchers compared 100 human skulls to 70 skulls from six other animals, and found that the human skull dimensions followed the Golden Ratio.
The skulls of less related species such as dogs, two kinds of monkeys, rabbits, lions and tigers, however, diverged from this ratio.
Rafael Tamargo, MD, professor of neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said: “The other mammals we surveyed actually have unique ratios that approach the Golden Ratio with increased species sophistication.
“We believe that this finding may have important anthropological and evolutionary implications.”
The researchers published their findings in the September issue of The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery.
The Golden Ratio can be calculated by taking a line and dividing it into two unequal parts, with the length of the longer part divided by the shorter length being equal to the entire length divided by the longer part.
The factor 1.618… describes this ‘Golden Mean’ (also called Golden Ratio or Golden Section) and can be observed in nature, but also in art. It can be found, for example, in architectural masterpieces, such as the old town hall in Leipzig, but also in flowers, snail shells, and even in the human body. If the proportions of parts of buildings, plants or bodies are in a ratio of 1.618 to one another, the human eye experiences this as particularly balanced and ‘harmonious’.
Tamargo’s interest in history and anatomy led him in 2010 to publish on finding a human brain and spinal cord in the depiction of God in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting.
Jonathan Pindrik, now a paediatric neurosurgeon at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, also contributed to the study.