31 August 2009

Whole lotta bones

Yesterday we were at the National Museum of Natural History in D.C. and looked at the interesting exhibition Written in Bone. The exhibition is about the forensic investigations of human skeletons and how forensic techniques have been applied to the bones of the 17th century English colonists in Jamestown, Virginia and St. Mary’s City, Maryland.

Written in Bone was quite informative and, as you can imagine, there were lots and lots of bones on display.

This is the skull of a late 20s man who had a couple of "pipe facets" thru his front teeth where he had habitually kept his pipe. I marked the one on the right side of his mouth with an orange arrow.


This edentulous (toothless) skull belonged to a 73-year old man who obviously didn’t take good care of his teeth. Not only had he lost all of his teeth but the underlying sockets as well. He is stated to have been a "denture wearer". Obviously, a recent skull since they didn't have dentures back in the 1600s, did they?


Here is the skeleton of a pre-term fetus. Look at the size of that skull in proportion to the rest of the body.


This poor fellow took a bullet right thru his forehead. He must died instantly, but his skull survived to tell a story. This may also be a recent skull.


And finally, here is the late anthropologist Grover Krantz (1931-2002) and his dog Clyde. Krantz spent (wasted?) his career at Washington State University searching for Bigfoot and never found it, of course.


Read the story behind this special display here.


John said...

Regarding the second skull, I know there were dentures in the 18th century (made from ivory or animal teeth), so it's possible that there were at least rudimentary dentures in the 17th century as well.

Anonymous said...

I think "wasted" is a little harsh. Krantz definitely believed bigfoot existed and wasn't too objective in that regard. But who's to say if searching for bigfoot is any more of a "waste" than looking in rare habitat for new species of plants or invertebrates. I'm sure he saw some stunning country.


When people go looking for new species of, say, frogs or snails, they usually have reliable zoogeographic evidence in the form of distribution patterns of related species. Krantz, on the other hand, believed the existence of something for which there never was any reliable scientific evidence. He might as well have searched for unicorns or mermaids.