Two researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia made the bizarre discovery while examining 218 X-rays of people aged between 18 and 30. They found over 40 percent had developed a spur at the base of their skulls.
Dr. David Shahar and Associate Professor Mark Sayers say constant forward tilting of the head, specifically caused by increased use of cell phones and other mobile devices, can lead to the formation of bone spurs in the skull, located just above the neck, ranging in size from 10 to 31 millimeters.
These kinds of spurs are normally seen in hunched-over elderly people and result from long-term poor posture and significant stress loads on their bones. But the research showed people aged 18 to 30 were much more likely to have the protrusions than people in their 30s, 40s or 50s.
As we hunch over smartphones and tablets, we crane our necks and hold our heads forward. This is problematic because the average head weighs around 10 pounds, about as much as a large watermelon, Shahar told the BBC last week in an article that drew widespread interest in the work.
Researchers say the phenomenon was more prevalent among men than among women. They suspect men are more likely to use their devices for longer periods of time for activities like gaming or sports events while women are more likely to use them for shorter social activities.
The answer is not necessarily swearing off technology, Shahar told The Washington Post. But he does encourages everyone who uses technology during the day to get use to re-calibrating their posture at night.
Shahar suggested reaching a hand around to the lower rear of the skull. He said those who have the horn-like feature can likely feel it.