Who doesn’t love a good skeleton? Okay, so maybe not everyone loves the human skeleton as much as I do. But I really do love the human skeleton. It’s beautiful, it’s functional, and it’s generally incredible. Adults have 206 bones, but newborns have over 300. The bones grow, stretch, and fuse into the bones we have as adults.
As a freshman I took a human osteology class, and I still dream of becoming a forensic anthropologist. We got to handle skeletal samples from our university, and then go to the Smithsonian labs to learn from their skeletal samples. We even got to see a femur of a man that had been shot with buck shot, and then the bone grew around it. Incredible!
So what’s a girl to do with no hands-on access to skeletons? Well, turn to the internet of course. There are several websites where you can easily check out different features of the skeleton, and even compare different species.
The ESkeletons project is maintained by the University of Texas at Austin. I stumbled across it a couple of years ago while researching primate anatomy relating to bipedalism. They have digitized the skeletons of 13 species of primates. You can look at different individual bones, different angles, and even compare skeletons. Bonus: the same team created eLucy and eFossils.
Loyola University Chicago supplies the internet with a great source to test your knowledge of the human skull. Complete with images, arrows, and labels. Need to study for your osteology exam? This site has your back.
Maintained by the Institute for Human Origins, this site focuses on human ancestors. Click on a fossil human, and you can learn all about them. There’s even an interactive timeline. This is the best source I’ve found for human ancestry study.
I used this one to study for my human ancestry class. This girl, Leah, also had a class to study for, so she wrote a song about australopithecines. It’s catchy, and songs always help to cement information in your brain.
The best skeleton-related decision I ever made was to take a human osteology course my freshman year of college. Not only did I learn from someone who really knew what she was talking about, but that class is why I have The Human Bone Manual, which is considered the seminal text.
Do you also love skeletons? Or maybe you have a different, but equally unorthodox, interest. And my favorite skeleton? Well that’s definitely the pigmy marmoset.