This weekend I discovered a copy of "Intracranial Tumors Among the Insane (1902) by Dr. I. W. Blackburn in a used bookstore in Gaithersburg, MD. Dr. Blackburn was the former pathologist for St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. He performed hundreds maybe thousands of autopsies on patients who died at the hospital. While browsing through the book I noticed a photo of very unique calvarium (top of the skull). The specimen had two rare conditions; scaphocephaly and hyperostosis frontalis interna. The bone looked strangely familiar.
Here is a recent photo of the specimen. In addition to the pathological conditions there are also consistencies among the size and shape of the exposed frontal sinus, the etchings of the meningeal vessels, the contours of the thickened frontal bone and the two small bony exostoses in the center just left of the midline. The front of the skull is oriented to the right.
In the photo below you can see the scaphocephalic calvarium (left) next to a normal one (right). Notice that the normal one on the right has a jagged line called the sagittal suture (front to back) which the one on the left lacks. Sutures are where the bones of the cranium grow and expand. In scaphocephaly the sagittal suture fuses prematurely and the coronal suture continues to grow which gives the unique elongated shape you see here. The one on the left is darker due to over 100 years of dust and dirt adhering to oils that remained in the bone. Since bone is porous, it can absorb materials from the environment which effect its color. The one on the right was cleaned using chemicals that removed much of the oils and was stored in a relatively cleaner environment.