, Volume 23, Issue 12, pp 1367-1377
Date: 30 Oct 2007

Hominid evolution of the arteriovenous system through the cranial base and its relevance for craniosynostosis

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This paper discusses how the evolving hominid architecture of the arteriovenous system through the cranial base diverted foreseeable pathology in the human brain.

Materials and methods

Bipedal upright posture was an early adaptation in mosaic morphological pattern changes in hominid evolution; a key feature, the ability of blood to flow either to vertebral or internal jugular venous systems. Encephalization punctuated hominid evolution, its vulnerable feature, a lower threshold for thermal damage. Comparative analysis of ape and human skulls show “fingerprint” structures, revealing big changes in pattern complexity of the cranial vascular tree. Clues to structural/functional changes span data for apes, humans, and hominid fossils. Here, the increasing vascular network, Australopithecus to Homo sapiens, necessitated changes in the blood flow patterns. The transverse-sigmoid (T/S) and occipital-marginal (O/M) venous networks accommodated hydrostatic changes of blood flow, regulating temperature uniquely: the O/M system enlarged, allowing blood to flow straight down into the vertebral plexus without cooling, and added a vast network of emissary/diploic veins, acting as a brain cooling “radiator.” This O/M system was fixed in the Australopithecus robustus lineage, p = 0.000001; high frequencies of emissary foramen were selected for over time. Ontologically, the human neonatal O/M system is fully developed; emissary/diploic veins are established by age 5, setting conditions for selective brain cooling.


The Radiator Theory is the evolution of the functionally efficient brain cooling system, fixed in the A. robustus lineage, tying hydrostatic consequences of bipedalism with release of a “thermal constraint” on the encephalizing brain, and reflected in our own ontogeny.

Presented at the Consensus Conference on Pediatric Neurosurgery, Rome, 1–2 December 2006.