Migration Reminder

On the off chance that anyone is still coming here looking for bone blogging, I just thought I’d post a reminder that I’ve moved Osteosophy to Blogger–not because I don’t like WordPress (I do), but because I can’t add Amazon affiliate links to a free WordPress blog, but I can on a free Blogger blog, and there’s an infinitesimal chance that someone might want to buy one of the books I mention.

So, you’ll now find Osteosophy here.

Published in: on 27/03/2011 at 10:44 am  Leave a Comment  


Well, it seems I can’t add Amazon affiliate links here without a ridiculous and time-consuming workaround, so I’m migrating the whole blog over to Blogger. You can find it here: http://osteosophy.blogspot.com/

Published in: on 01/09/2010 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fiction for Skelephiles: Aaron Elkins

I happened across one of those donation racks of books in the mall the other day: suggested donation = $1 per book, proceeds to go to the hospital. And among all the battered romance novels and thrillers of dubious quality I found two novels by Aaron Elkins.

Elkins is one of the few mystery writers whose books I regularly look for every time I go to a used book store, and I’d given up finding any new ones. I had begun to think he’d stopped writing any in the Gideon Oliver series sometime in the late 90s. The two I found were from the 2004 and 2005, so obviously I was mistaken.

Elkins’ Gideon Oliver books are about a forensic anthropologist who, in helping the FBI in a few cases, became known as “The Skeleton Detective.” Most of the books are fairly short, and very readable. Though I’ve only read one Kathy Reichs “Temperance Brennan” novels (the first one), so I can’t really judge, I find Elkins’ characters and writing style much more engaging. And there’s lots of great bone science in them, but presented in a generally seamless manner.

So here’s the complete list of Gideon Oliver novels, in order. I meant to include Amazon links, because that way I could include images of the covers, but apparently it’s a bit finicky to add associate links to free wordpress.com hosted blogs, so that’ll have to wait until I figure it out.

  • Fellowship of Fear (1982)
  • The Dark Place (1983)
  • Murder in the Queen’s Armes (1985)
  • Old Bones (1987)
  • Curses! (1989)
  • Icy Clutches (1990)
  • Make No Bones (1991)
  • Dead Men’s Hearts (1994)
  • Twenty Blue Devils (1997)
  • Skeleton Dance (2000)
  • Good Blood (2004)
  • Where There’s Will (2005)
  • Unnatural Selection (2006)
  • Little Tiny Teeth (2007)
  • Uneasy Relations (2008)
  • Skull Duggery (2009)

I’m reading Good Blood right now. So far I’m finding it a little slower to get into than previous Gideon Oliver books, but it’s been a while since I read any. I expect things will pick up once some bones are found.

Published in: on 09/05/2010 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

And Now for Something Completely Different

OK, it’s not a flying circus, but it is a sideshow.

Lately, I’ve been working on improving my illustration skills by making ATCs or Artist Trading Cards. It’s fun to make little art and trade it with other folks, and themed swaps make me stretch myself to see what I can come up with to fit. But what, you may ask, does any of this have to do with bones? Well, I haven’t posted here recently (though I’m going to aim for at least one post a week from here on), as I’ve been busy with art and writing and various other things. But this past week I had a chance to draw some bones for an ATC swap.

So, without further ado, may I present A Scientific Study of Sideshow Freaks through their Skeletal Anatomy (which is, of course, not scientific at all–though it would be fun to re-do them as Victorian-esque scientific drawings, come to think of it).

Exhibit 1: The Rat-Tailed Boy

The Rat-Tailed Boy

Exhibit 2: The Two-Headed Man

The Two-Headed Man

Exhibit 3: The Three-Legged Woman

The Three-Legged Woman

Exhibit 4: The “Mermaid”

The Mermaid

Next post, I promise to get back to the more serious business of bone study.

Published in: on 31/03/2010 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Top 50 Archaeology Blogs

Why a list called 50 Best Blogs for Archaeology Students would show up on a blog for Radiology Technician Schools, I do not know, but it’s a good list and worth looking at, and besides, my friend Tim’s blog Elfshot: Sticks and Stones is listed at number 8.

I find it interesting that, while there are quite a few general archaeology blogs, or archaeology and anthropology blogs, and some blogs on specific topics or parts of the world, there is no zooarchaeology blog. Perhaps someone out there is doing one and it’s either too new or too little read to show up on a top 50 list. Oh wait, someone is doing one. It’s me. Seriously, though, if anyone reading this (does anyone read this?) knows of any other zooarch blogs or osteology blogs, or blogs dealing significantly with bones, drop me a line or leave a comment and I’ll start a blogroll in the sidebar.

Published in: on 19/03/2010 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Bird Bones

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like there are fewer online references for osteology and zoorchaeology than there were back in the 90s when I was an archaeology student. That said, I have found some really great sites for bird osteology.

The first site I found is the Bird Skull Collection. It’s maintained by the Experimental Zoology Group of Wageningen University and is, as the title indicates, a collection of bird skulls, all photographed from multiple views. Obviously, not every bird species in the world is included here, but the collection is vast and continually growing, and the images are clear. In addition to the skulls, there are full skeletons for some species, and even a selection of 3D images. There’s even a quiz so you can test your knowledge of bird skulls (I’ll leave that for when I’ve brushed up my skills a bit).

The links page on the above site then led me to the Seabird Osteology Pages, another site from the Netherlands. The images are mostly skulls, but the scope has expanded to include other bones, too. It’s a less comprehensive page than the Bird Skull Collection–as it must be, focusing only on seabirds–but the quality of the photographs is top-notch. So if you’re interested in seabirds, this is an essential site.

As for books, the main reference still seems to be Avian Osteology by B. Miles Gilbert. (Info here–it’s the third book down on the list.) A promicing-looking book I haven’t actually got my hands on yet is Manual for the Identification of Bird Bones from Archaeological Sites by Alan Cohen and Dale Serjeantson (info here). Another useful reference, especially if you’re also interested in tracking and observing living birds, is Bird Tracks and Sign by Mark Elbroch (Amazon info). it’s got a decent section on bird skulls, but is limited to North America.

There are also assorted smaller sources and monographs on specific topics. One such is On the Osteology of the Striges. [Strigidae and Bubonidae] by R.W. Shufeldt. It’s a reprint from the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society from 1900. It’s got illustrations of varying utility, but I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t say how good the text is. I’m slowly building an osteology/zooarchaeology library, and I’ll mention new books as I find them.

Published in: on 17/03/2010 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Taxidermy in Art

There’s a great post on taxidermy in art over at Dr InSectus’s Cabinet of Curiosities. The art of Ron Pippin, Jessica Joslin and Rosamond Purcell are all covered (with pictures!), and the work is just beautiful. I was already familiar with all three artists, but there were a few images here I hadn’t seen. I’m especially fond of the work of Rosamond Purcell (who I’m also a fan of on Facebook). I’ve got a couple of her books, which I’ll probably talk about in later posts, and I’m working on a triptych of linoprints based on one of her photographs of fossils. (OK, sometimes I secretly want to be Rosamond Purcell, except mostly I’m too fond of being myself.)

Some of this is the kind of work I can imagine myself doing, if I had more tools and more skills. Lately I’m imagining mounted and posed cow skeletons lurking in the bushes around my 5 acres. I know where to get the skeletons, too. Maybe this summer I’ll get ambitious and learn how to mount them. If BillyZee will let me fill our property with skeletal cows. He might not like that.

Published in: on 16/03/2010 at 8:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Shopping for Bones

For no particular reason other than that I have a number of links to places you can buy bones and bone replicas, I’m going to start this blog with a short list of online shops. I haven’t purchased from all of these places, so don’t take their inclusion here as an endorsement. Please let me know if you have a good or bad experience with any of them, and I’ll add it when I eventually turn this list into its own separate page.

Real Bones

  • The Bone Room – I’ve never shopped here, but the Mythbusters do, so I suspect they’re a good place to buy from.
  • Evolution – I’ve shopped in their physical store and it was one of the highlights of my trip to NYC; I tried to mail-order once but the item I wanted (shark in a jar) required a special (expensive) permit to send to Canada, so I canceled, but they’re probably good for US customers and non-special-permit stuff for outside US customers. Plus, they have a great name.
  • Skulls Unlimited – I haven’t yet purchased anything from here, but they do have a fantastic selection of both real bones and replicas.
  • MilesCo Scientific – Never shopped here, and they don’t have a huge selection, but might be a good resource for some things.

Fossil Replicas

  • Bone Clones – I am dying (figuratively) to buy something here. They have gorgeous replicas of both contemporary and fossil bones, in a huge variety of animals. I could go very broke very easily. They make a lot of the replicas found for sale from other shops, but I’ve never ordered from them myself. Yet.
  • Skulls Unlimited – they also sell replicas.
  • Dinosaur Corporation –  I bought an archaeopteryx skull replica from here, and it’s a decent quality for the price (they had the best price I could find at the time) and got here (to Canada from the US) in good time and in good shape.
  • The Dinosaur Store – I came across this place when I was looking for archaeopteryx skull replicas, but I haven’t bought anything from them. They haven’t got a huge selection, but the quality and prices seem reasonable.
Published in: on 13/03/2010 at 6:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,