Text: Thinking you see a bone on the ground but realizing it is just an oddly shaped stick
Background: Mine(Please excuse the changing of colour/style, I’m trying to find a nice balance. This is the default background for when I can’t find good stock images)
FRAKKIN LEAVES, MAN
LEAF ME ALONE
and on the beach is that a bone??? gotta be a bone oh my god yes SURPRISE it’s a stone just like the thousands of other pebbles surrounding it
Anonymous asked: I was wondering, what's your thoughts/stance on the Kennewick Man thing?
I don’t know enough about Kennewick Man specifically to give any detailed commentary on the legal case or the genetics or validity of each side’s arguments.
Generally however, I’m of the stance that whenever research involves human remains, it must be conducted with the consent of the deceased individual themselves and/or their surviving family, and in the case of burials the beliefs and values of any surviving community tied to those remains must be respected. And given anthropology’s long and very nasty colonialist history of treating Native remains as literal objects for white academics to plunder instead of burials deserving of dignity and honor, NAGPRA exists for a damn good reason.
Osteological descriptions are much more difficult than I had even imagined, but the resultant text is just hilarious to read through a second time:
"…a strong symphysis of developmental plates, in contact with nasals anteriorly, maxillary ascending process anterolaterally, prefrontals laterally, postorbitofrontals posterolaterally, and parietals posteriorly; frontoparietal suture thin and curved posteriorly; orbits round, oriented anterolaterally…"
I mean, in this 218 word sentence (we write in telegram style, using semicolons instead of fullstops because Science), average word length is 8 letters - three letters higher than the overall English average according to WolframAlpha.
One of my family members, who is otherwise extremely well-educated but occasionally shows their age, made a joking comment about queer theory as a research interest. Just to spite them (and after learning them a thing about the importance of queer theory), I am now devoting my energies toward a queer reading of the fossil record:
"Putting the homo in Homo: A Foucauldian dialogue on the sexual politics of rock art”
"Queering Australopithecus: A cartography of homosexual behaviour in the fossil record”
- by Efthymia Nikita
“Intercostal and age differences in the sternal rib end morphology of documented female skeletons from Spitalfields and St. Bride’s are examined. The morphology was captured using three-dimensional morphometrics and the statistical analyses employed included parametric and nonparametric MANOVA, discriminant analysis, and multilinear regressions. It was found that the quantified morphology of the sternal rib end was statistically significantly different between rib four and all other ribs except for the third one and that the morphological characteristics of all ribs varied with age. However, due to the inherent variability in sternal rib end morphology, nonstatistically significant results were obtained among the various age groups and neither disciminant nor multilinear regression analysis could be used for the estimation of the age of an individual based on digitized coordinates of the sternal rib end of individuals of known age, raising some concern as to the rigorousness of the fourth rib aging method” (read more/open access).
(Open access source: Journal of Forensic Sciences 58(2):324-329, 2013 via Academia.edu)
2 months ago on July 23, 2014 at 09:59pm with 64 notes
High speed car accident. What injuries are seen and what’s the background condition called?
Okay, so I normally leave the answers off or just hint to them in the tags when I reblog radiologysigns (you are awesome, radiologysigns, just so you know) so my fellow bone nerds can quiz ourselves, but this is something that’s easy to miss if you don’t have time to click through. Especially since us dry bone people don’t get a full education in radiology. And I thought I’d include the kids who haven’t taken a hard core osteology class (yet) in the fun!
So that broken spine and pelvis are pretty freaking dramatic. And those bones are dense as hell - see how white they are in the radiograph? That’s the “background condition” in the teaser. It’s osteopetrosis.
The fuck is that? It’s basically the opposite of osteoporosis - your bones get TOO dense. How could that be bad, right? Wrong! It sucks too. Lemme ‘splain.
See, bone is living tissue. It’s constantly changing according to how you use or don’t use it. This is (basically) due to the activities of two kinds of bone cells: osteoblasts, which build bone, and osteoclasts, which break it down. And I know you’re probably thinking “uh… I don’t want those bone-breaking-down cells, that can’t be good!” But seriously, you want these to work right, because sometimes you have to break down the old to make way for the new. Like how you have to sand down a surface to get a new coat of paint to stick. Or like how you’re supposed to build muscle by working out enough to just slightly damage the muscle you have so it builds back stronger. It’s not a perfect metaphor when it comes to bone, but it’s the same basic idea.
You may have experience with this process if you’ve broken a bone - you may get it set or surgically pinned (or if you’re American and don’t have insurance you might get a sling and a ‘good luck with that’ but STORY FOR ANOTHER TIME), but the bone repairs itself in the parameters given. It smooths over the sharp edges of the fracture and builds new bone, and the fracture heals. But those helpful little osteoclasts and osteoblasts aren’t just sleeping until you break something - they’re at work all the time! They’re making you stronger where you need it, lighter in places you don’t use, and unfortunately, might be giving you arthritis when you get older (I didn’t say bone was smart). You know that thing about how you’re an entirely new person on a cellular level every 7 years? That applies to bone too! Except with a skeleton it’s about every 10 years, giving or taking a fairly wide range because human variation.
Anyhow, back to osteopetrosis. Like osteoporosis, it’s a condition where the bone-building and the bone-breaking-down functions get out of balance, only it’s the osteoclasts (the breaking-down guys) that aren’t doing their job and bone density goes up rather than getting reduced. And without osteoclasts to clean things out, the bone building function goes awry. The marrow cavities can get too thin, leading to anemia and other marrow-related complications, and the holes for nerves especially in the cranium can get narrowed as well - your optic and auditory nerves are up there and like all nerves, they like a little space to function and don’t appreciate getting pinched.
Most characteristically though, the unchecked osteoblasts building things up all the time cause the bones to get brittle. This is what really affects the lives of people with osteopetrosis and, as you can see most dramatically above, the bones break easily in the face of things like car accidents. Sweet mother that looks painful.
So take a moment and thank the balance of skeletal creation and destruction made possible by the humble osteoclast, and may yours always be in balance with your osteoblasts.
the great thing about anthropology is dead people don’t talk back
Feminist archaeology thus asks new questions, and shakes up interpretations of existing data as well as suggesting new data sets. It demands details in situations where concepts have been taken for granted rather than argued. It even adds a measure of common sense to well-trodden ground. Furthermore, we can learn new things about gender roles, gender relationships, and gender ideology in particular times and places, adding richness to our understandings. By challenging preconceived ideas about how men and women interacted, feminist archaeology requires proof instead of assertions, especially those which interpret sites based on current attitudes and practices.
Sarah Milledge Nelson, How A Feminist Stance Improves Archaeology
Don’t ever let anyone get away with making sweeping general statements about the role of gender in past societies, not even old respected male archaeologists, Challenge them, make them prove their claims, make them provide evidence, don’t let them rest on an inherent androcentrism that is modern academia.
I sat in on an “Identities in Archaeology” class a few years back just for the fun of it. The professor lectured about archaeological interpretations across the globe which exhibit a male-only presence. This is generally due to the fact that stone tools are the cultural materials most commonly recovered from archaeological sites, and where, regardless of function, the general stereotype stone tools are for use in hunting only - an activity associated with men. This negates the fact that woman and children often contributed a substantial amount of energy into sustaining a family with staple foods while the high-risk/high-return activities, which could very well yield a low return, were taken on by the male. Oddly enough, when ethnography and a more holistic view are infused into archaeological interpretation, it might not be so difficult to tease out other demographics.
The continuing story of my super-helpful notes.
If anybody has ever been curious as to what anthropology is like…
This. This exactly.
My favorite osteopathologies are the ones that make me blurt “WOW!” or “HOLY SHIT!” as soon as I look at them.
Though I always feel a little bashful afterward and end up apologizing to the person or animal (even though they’re dead/an x-ray) like “Sorry buddy that had to freaking hurt.”