November 21, 2014

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 21)

One of my undergraduates pointed out today a Twitter post by Kathy Reichs, the author, of course, of the Temperance Brennan book series on which the TV show Bones is based.*  Reichs' post is a throwback Thursday picture of her working in the lab at the LSJML in Montreal:


My student noticed that the scapulae, humeri, and tibiae were mis-sided and not laid out in anatomical position.  Surely, she thought, Reichs would not post a picture of herself with bones in weird positions.  I harp on this in class all the time: lay out the bones in anatomical position. They have to be as close as you can get to anatomical position.

I am well aware that when you're working on a skeleton, bones get out of place and rearranged.  I've absolutely confused myself before by not paying attention and putting bones back in the wrong places, then wondering why there was suddenly a new fracture on the bone.  But Reichs' photo involves practically all of the bones not in anatomical position.  She was looking at the posterior aspect of the arm and shoulder bones? The tibiae got misplaced? Quickly staged photo op? (But how long does it take to lay out 20 large, unbroken bones... 2 minutes tops?)

So, who needs an osteologist today?  Apparently Kathy Reichs does.

*Full disclaimer -- as much as I rag on Bones in my reviews, I am a huge fan of Reichs and especially her book series (which is way, way better forensically than the TV show).  And thanks to Jennifer Waters for pointing this out - A+ osteological work!

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Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

November 18, 2014

A Dozen Ways to Make a Mummy

Tomorrow's lecture in bioarchaeology has twelve case studies of mummies from around the world.  Inspired by that (and by my constant foot-dragging when it comes time to write lectures), I give you A Dozen Ways to Make a Mummy, to the tune of Paul Simon's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.  (Apologies in advance to Mr. Simon, whose work I can't get enough of, even when random people sing Cecilia upon meeting my kid.)

A Dozen Ways to Make a Mummy

The problem is that a body tends to decompose.
The answer is clearer if you take time to repose.
I'd like to help you with this song I have composed.
There must be... a dozen ways to make a mummy.

Stick a hook up the nose, Mose.
Break the ethmoid, Floyd.
No need to be coy, Roy, just suck those brains free!
Take out the heart, Bart.
Get some canopic jars, Lars.
Pile on the nat-Ron, just listen to me.

You say, "I know about the ancient Egyptians.
But tell me more, please, without going into conniptions.
I'd like to hear you give some more descriptions
about the dozen ways to make a mummy."

Well, you can soak it in salt, Walt.
Spray it with tar, Edgar.
Float it in honey, Lee, like a Roman sweet.
Sink it in a bog, Dawg, to preserve that meat.

You say, "Why don't we both just think of this some more
for I believe that if we try, we can make a Mummy Corps
full of people who think that this gore of yore's no snore.
There's more than... a dozen ways to make a mummy.
More than a dozen ways to make a mummy."

With many thanks to everyone who contributed to my Facebook and Twitter threads, including: Phoebe Acheson (@classicslib), Alison Atkin (@alisonatkin), Katie Biitner (@kbiitner), Lindsay Bloch,  Lynne Goldstein (@lynnegoldstein), Bethany Nowviskie (@nowviskie), Joy Reeber, Laura Wagner (@TiLauraRose), and Erika Zimmermann Damer.

November 15, 2014

Bones - Season 10, Episode 7 (Review)

The Money Maker on the Merry-Go-Round
Episode Summary
A bunch of dads playing at the park with their kids find a dead body under a merry-go-round.  The whole merry-go-round is brought back to the Jeffersonian, apparently so that some intestine can fall on Saroyan.  Brennan and Wells estimate sex as male from the lack of subpubic concavity, age-at-death as mid- to late-20s from the auricular surface, and white ancestry from the parabolic dental arch. Saroyan puts time-of-death at 2 to 2.5 days before. The dead man had a mouth full of veneers worth tens of thousands of dollars, but no phone or wallet, and his wedding band was missing. There's hemorrhagic staining in the cranium around the time of death. Saroyan and Angela reconstruct the skull and face and get a positive ID: Toby Wachlin.

Booth questions Anne Wachlin, but she just returned from a trip. She notes that Toby worked at Horizon Equities, and Aubrey bristles (wahn wahnnnn, sad backstory alert). They go talk to Mason Barnes, who runs the company.  He said that Toby was having issues with Blair Ellis, who has a temper.  Blair denies killing Toby. 

Hodgins finds from the lack of playground particulates in Toby's shoes that he was killed elsewhere. Saroyan finds that Toby had a cocaine problem. Traces of an industrial-strength insecticide coupled with pollen from Hungarian oak trees lead the FBI to a house in an affluent neighborhood.  While Wells figures out that there were multiple points of impact on Toby's skull from a blunt object, Booth finds out that Toby was injured in Derek Kaplan's house the night of his death. Wells notes a perimortem injury to the distal radius from a thin, cylindrical object that came to a point. Angela looks at Kaplan's bedroom and thinks the weapon may have been the candlestick.  Toby was in the bedroom with an escort.  The escort admits to having stabbed Toby with the candlestick, but denies killing him.  He owed her money for cocaine, so she took his wallet, cell, and wedding ring as collateral; he wanted the cell phone back desperately. Angela needs Toby's iris to unlock his phone, so Saroyan reconstitutes it with saline. Once in, they find evidence that Toby's boss was trying to bribe the chief technical officer at the stock exchange to put their computer closer to the server. Wells finds hemorrhagic staining to the right side of the mandible, circular and 25mm in diameter.

Booth heads back to Horizon to arrest Barnes for securities fraud. Barnes denies killing Toby. Brennan finds blood on Barnes' desk and doorknob, but he insists that anyone could have come into his office because it's unlocked. Wells goes back to the wounds and finds that Toby was hit 9 times; Brennan hypothesizes that the skull may have fractured along the suture lines and that that fracture may have cut the killer. Within the sagittal suture, they find a fragment of emerald.  Booth realizes it's a ring that Ellis wears, and they call him in for questioning.  He admits it pretty quickly: Toby was sneaking into Barnes' office to take money to give to the escort/coke dealer, and Ellis was annoyed that Toby wasn't playing well with others.



Comments
  • Forensic
    • Lack of subpubic concavity is one of three traits used in the Phenice technique for estimating sex.  It's not the best trait (that would be ventral arc), but at least it's better than narrow ischiopubic ramus ridge, amiright?  Auricular surface aging is fine, I suppose, but a parabolic dental arch isn't the most reliable indicator of ancestry.  As usual, no osteologist would use just three traits to ID the person.  (As a point of reference, I just handed out a packet of 25 pages of data collection sheets to my Human Osteology class today, for use in their final skeletal ID report.)
    • I don't buy that the cranial sutures would break in such a way that they could cut the assailant without his noticing it.  I mean, there's muscle and flesh and other stuff before you get to the bone.
  • Plot
    • They're not even pretending that these are federal cases anymore, are they?  There's no reason to call the FBI in, like, most of the last several seasons.
    • Anthropologists know that IQ is not a good measure of intelligence.  So it's weird that Wells and Brennan keep arguing about it.
    • Why aren't sex, age, ancestry, veneers, and missing person's report enough for ID?  Why do they need to do a facial reconstruction (which always seems to make a positive ID, even though in real life, that doesn't cut it)?
    • How did Ellis move Toby's body?  Why the playground? Why under the merry-go-round?  Seems really random.
  • Dialogue
    • Oh jeez, far too many people said the word "ass" far too many times in this episode.

Ratings
Forensic Mystery - C+. Pretty clear who did it from the get-go.

Forensic Solution - B-. Eh. Not much forensic work in this episode. Pretty tidy all around.

Drama - C. I aggressively don't care about Aubrey's back story.  I kinda liked him better before they tried to give him depth.

November 10, 2014

Bones - Season 10, Episode 6 (Review)

The Lost Love in the Foreign Land
Episode Summary
We open on Cam and Arastoo "making fesenjaan," as they say ("it's the hardest Persian dish!") when a dead body outside of Baltimore interrupts them.  A bunch of goats clearing a field found a dead body. Based on blowfly larvae, Hodgins puts time-of-death at 6 to 7 days ago. Brennan does some forensic-fu and figures that the deceased was a female of Asian descent based on the length of the hip axis. Wear on the mandibular dentition puts her in her 20s. Harris lines on her long bones indicate malnutrition as a child. She also has osteoporosis and is missing the fourth and fifth phalanges on both feet.  Based on the robust brow ridges and sternocleidomastoid muscle attachments, Brennan figures she was Chinese. Angela gets no match for her facial reconstruction.

Hodgins finds a watch with a serial number on it. Angela traces that to Sandra Zins, who knew the deceased as Theresa, her maid.  She did a lot of work in Asia and her deceased husband was an importer. She found Theresa through Sunny Helpers; Victor Lee owns the company. Lee tells Booth and Aubrey that Minyung (Theresa) was his employee but he didn't know where she lived. He gives them a list of clients and names and points them at Jeremy Walford, a registered sex offender who likes Asian girls.  He denies having killed her, but gives them her bus route. 

Meanwhile, the Jeffersonian team finds more information. Enlarged facets at the distal ends of the radius and ulna suggest her wrists were dislocated, and abrasions suggest they were tied. Straddle fractures in the pelvis suggest sexual assault, but there is no evidence of sexual assault in the soft tissue. Vaziri also finds slightly remodeled fractures to the sternum from blunt trauma sustained about a week prior to death. Saroyan finds histoplasmosis in the lung tissue, which leads Hodgins to cross-reference bat caves with the bus line and particulates found in Minyung's shoes. Booth and Aubrey head to the location -- a ramshackle house whose door is answered by Victor Lee.  Booth and Aubrey bust in and find a basement filled with a bunch of female migrant workers. Alex Radziwill with the State Department gets involved because of the human trafficking issue, and Tammy, who speaks for the whole group, tells Booth that Victor beat her and the others. He wouldn't let them contact their families and threatened their lives. Meanwhile, Angela puts together some photo paper recovered from goat excrement and finds the person was Sung Dae Park, who was wanted for killing Minyung's father back in China. Sung didn't know that Minyung was in the U.S.; he killed her father for beating her and they were trying to start a new life, but he was also trafficked.

Brennan notices a puncture wound to the transverse process of the C5. Hodgins reasons that Minyung lost her toes because of frostbite while she was trying to leave China. Angela finds that Lee's Sunny Helpers is actually owned by Sandra Zins, and Booth questions her and then arrests her on suspicion of murder.  Without an idea of the cause of death, though, he can't hold her.  Vaziri then finds an abrasion to the lower edge of the mandible; the location and severity would have severed Minyung's carotid artery.  Brennan works with Angela to narrow down the weapon to a cuticle pusher used by manicurists. Booth realizes that Tammy, who worked in a nail salon, killed Minyung.  She eventually confesses.  Minyung was beaten by Victor for sneaking out to find Sung; Tammy thought that Victor would harm them and their families if she snuck out again, so she killed Minyung. 



Comments
  • Forensic
    • Arrrrgh.  Hip axis length?  What the what?  Maybe the writers were thinking of this 2004 article on the possibility of differentiating a multiethnic population in Singapore?  But this 2008 article shows no difference between three major ethic groups.  So yeah, no using hip axis length to tell ancestry, mmm 'k?
    • Since the victim was in her early 20s, it's possible to still see Harris lines (that occurred in, say, adolescence).  For some reason, the writers always seem to think that Harris lines are permanent like linear enamel hypoplasias are.
    • Robust brow ridges indicate Chinese?  Don't even get me started on the sternocleidomastoideus muscle attachment site.  No clue how or why that's supposed to indicate ancestry (maybe this ancient 1967 article on the posterior supramastoid tubercle, from a time when every single cranial feature was examined to indicate "race"?)
    • Dislocation can only be seen on bones if it's longstanding.  Postmortem dislocation of Minyung's wrists from dragging would show up on the soft tissue, not the skeleton.  No idea what they think they mean by "enlarged facets."
  • Plot
    • Where are Brennan's students in school anyway?
    • Vaziri makes up a new dissertation proposal in one day's time.  Excuse me while I collapse in fits of laughter. (But I'm always happy when Pej Vahdat gets screen time. And I love fesenjaan.)
    • Isn't Park a traditionally Korean name?
    • Why would Tammy have manicure tools on her at home? Wouldn't she leave those at work / wouldn't they belong to her employer?
  • Dialogue
    • "My job is to nurture trailblazers, not sycophants." - My new line for responding to prospective graduate student emails
    • "Anthropologically speaking, one group will always occupy a higher status and will exploit those who are more vulnerable." - Pretty much sums up the topic of my last couple lectures in Bioarchaeology
    • "They need someone low to the ground to deal with the bottom-feeders." - Alex from the State Department 

Ratings
Forensic Mystery - B+.  I'm still not sure where the sexual assault/straddle fractures and osteoporosis quite fit in.

Forensic Solution - D+. Ugh, all the ancestry stuff was awful. Matching the weapon to a cuticle pusher was likely impossible. Dislocation evidence was unrealistic. On the up side, histoplasmosis? 

Drama - C+.  The plus is for the pathos.

November 1, 2014

Bones - Season 10, Episode 5 (Review)

The Corpse at the Convention
Episode Summary
Brennan is the keynote speaker at the fictional National Forensic Sciences Convention and plans to tell the Schroedinger's cat joke.  At the convention, Hodgins has a run-in with an old nemesis, Leona Saunders, and the rest of the team geek out over new forensic tools. Brennan runs into author Tess Brown, and the latter appears to have a strained relationship with Edward Harkness, the chairman of the convention. Just as Brennan starts to talk, a fire alarm goes off.  Tess Brown points out a body in the stairwell doused in gasoline.  Brennan tries to put it out with a fire extinguisher, but that makes it worse.

"Wendell, should you even be here? Oh, whatever, we don't
want to get all that goo on our fancy clothes. Carry on."
After the fire department puts out the flaming body, the team gets to work, with help from the forensic tool purveyors angling to get their product into the hands of the Jeffersonian team. Booth and Aubrey show up, as does Wendell, who is in remission. He notes that the small brow ridges and sharp upper margin of the eye orbit suggest the victim was female, and her pubic symphysis puts her in her early 40s. Her burned lanyard is given to Angela to try to get information from. Hodgins takes an impression of a shoe print that was burned into the concrete floor. Stab wounds are apparent on the ribs and soft tissue of the torso, and Saroyan thinks that the victim died an hour or so before the fire was set. Angela finds four female registrants unaccounted for, and using her facial recognition software, she finds a match in Leona Saunders.

Hodgins admits that he and Leona fought.  She stole his idea for an odor recognition device and ended up making millions on it. But he didn't kill her.  He finds on the footprint some olive and canola oil, and the design of the shoe also indicates possibly a kitchen worker at the convention center left it.  The shoe is a match for a kitchen worker who clocked out early.  Booth and Aubrey question him at the FBI, but he denies killing Leona.  He did stumble on the dead body before it went up in flames, and he did take money out of her wallet, but he left before the fire.

Once the body is transported to the Jeffersonian, Wendell notices striations on the ribs and sternum.  Saroyan finds the contents of her stomach. He also finds a piece of a bandaid, and gives it to Saroyan to run DNA on.  Even though it's been through a fire, the DNA comes back as a perfect match for Hodgins. He admits to having thrown a bandaid in the trash that morning at the convention center. Brennan doesn't see any obvious defensive injuries.  She notices a spiderweb fracture to the sternum, suggesting someone hit her hard to knock the wind out of her, before stabbing her. Indentations on the right ribs are deeper than on the left, but Brennan thinks that it was from someone pretending to be a right-handed assailant. Leona's stomach contents included strawberries, chocolate, and expensive wine, and Hodgins finds that the wine had been delivered to Harkness's room the night before the murder.  He admits to his affair with Leona, but he had previously been seeing Tess Brown. She is questioned by the FBI but lawyers up. 

Particulates in the stab wound are from obsidian, Hodgins finds, so he thinks that it may have been burned up in a magnesium fire. Brennan notices a slight discoloration on the ilium that may have been a third accelerant. Hodgins finds out that it was sulfuric acid and potassium chlorate. Together they are volatile, but if they are separated they are fine. He reasons that the aluminum foil he found on Leona was keeping the two chemicals apart; when the acid ate through the foil, the reaction happened and created the spark that kicked off the gasoline fire. This means that no one has an alibi any longer. But the puncture wound to the left 5th rib near its vertebral end may have been what killed Leona. Hodgins finds that the shape of the wound is very specific: the rod of Aldous Carter's thermocouple.  Although it records data each time it's used, there is only one data point on it, from when Saroyan used it.  Carter had wiped it. But Hodgins finds traces of the nano composites from Carter's gloves on the body, and after they bring him in to the FBI to question him, Brennan mentions that they have DNA evidence tying Carter to the murder: he cut himself with the magnesium strips he was using to set the fire, and there is DNA in his patented gloves. Carter admits to killing Leona because he found out she was sleeping with him just to steal his idea. He set up the murder as a way to sell his products.

Comments
  • Forensic
    • Most things seemed to be in order.  Sex and age estimation were fine. Most of the injuries seemed reasonable.  
    • The radius and ulna were kind of ridiculously laid out on the lab table; both radii were medial and flipped anterior-to-posterior.
    • How did they positively ID Leona?  I guess Angela did facial reconstruction/match (which isn't a positive ID)?
    • The convention was taking place in the late morning, I gather, but Leona's stomach still had evidence of wine, strawberries, and chocolate from the early morning?  Seems like that wouldn't last that long.
    • Oh, I love it when DNA tests on tiny bits of burned stuff come back with a perfect match for someone, and within the span of like 15 minutes.  Totally realistic.
  • Plot
    • I guess there could be forensic conventions with a keynote speaker.  It would be more appropriate to send them to a conference, though, which is not the same thing.
    • Did I understand Hodgins right?  Did he say he'd found 600 g of obsidian when swabbing the ribs for particulates?  That's... a lot of obsidian.
    • You know, if one of the Jeffersonian staff is accused of murder, they really should not be working on the case because, uh, the law 'n' stuff.
  • Dialogue
    • "A great, a good, and a right mind is a kind of divinity lodged in flesh." -- Seneca
    • "Conventions usually devolve into carnivals of indiscretion." -- Convention director dude
Ratings
Forensic Mystery - B-. This could have been much better if they'd cut down on the number of things the killer used to try to throw the Jeffersonian off his trail. Fewer details can lead to stronger storytelling.

Forensic Solution - B-. The whole fancy-gloves-cut-magnesium thing at the end seemed pulled out of a hat.  "Oh yeah, we have your DNA.  Boo-yah!"

Drama - C. Eh.  In some scenes, everyone was all "*gasp* Hodgins might have done it!" and in some scenes, everyone was all "Nah, let's not even question him and let him keep working on the case." It was uneven, is what I'm saying.

October 31, 2014

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 20)

This story seems to have slipped my notice over the last two weeks, but a team of radiologists in West Palm Beach, Florida, scanned an Egyptian mummy dating to 30-300 AD in advance of its going on display at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium.

According to the news reports, which aren't terribly great, 40 years ago the mummy was studied, and researchers thought the mummy was that of a girl between the ages of 4-9 who died of tuberculosis.  The diagnosis rested on missing vertebrae, but those were found when they scanned her.  So based on a small spot, they think she may have died of appendicitis instead.

The analysis seems to have been sanctioned by the head curator of the exhibit, Egyptologist Carolyn Routledge.  But as far as I can tell from the news coverage, no osteologists were involved.  The main way I can tell? -- "Based on the modern scans, doctors say she likely is a Caucasian toddler."

Yeah, no.  Doing an ancestry estimation on subadult bones is simply not a good idea, because they're not in their adult forms (and we don't have solid methods of estimating ancestry from subadult remains, only adult remains).  However, the main reason not to call this child "Caucasian" is because that is a modern classification that is based on the (skin color) analysis of modern people, and she died 2,000 years ago. While you could argue that we could call the mummy "Caucasoid" using the correct forensic terminology, bioarchaeologists do not do ancestry estimations from modern forensic criteria.  When we do, we get issues like the shitstorm that erupted when Kennewick Man was called "Caucasian" and everyone thought that meant Europeans were in the U.S. before Native Americans.  This ancient Egyptian 3-year-old was not Caucasian.  Just... no.

Next time, please call an osteologist with expertise in mummies, or at least don't let doctors speculate on an ancient person's genetic heritage based on poorly understood terminology and poorly applied techniques used in contemporary forensic situations.

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Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival LXV

Welp, I seem to have missed last month's RBC.  Oops.  So here's an extra-large helping of Roman(ish) bioarchaeology news for the last couple of months!

Italy and Greece
"Witch girl". Via Discovery News.
Britain
  • 23 October. Roman-Britons had less gum disease than modern Britons (Medical Xpress). Over 300 skulls from Poundbury (Dorset; 200-400 AD) were studied for various dental diseases. Only 5% had significant periodontal disease, whereas 15-30% of modern Britons do. The Romano-Britons did have more carious lesions, abscesses, and tooth wear, though.
Siberia
  • 17 September.  Successful 2,300-year-old brain surgery techniques now being recreated in Siberia (IB Times). An interdisciplinary team of specialists is trying to recreate the form of and tools used for trepanation practiced by the Pazyryk people, who lived in the Altai Mountains (Siberia) and were known to the Greeks as early as the 5th century BC. Specifically, they posit a link between the Pazyryk and the Hippocratic Corpus, which mentions techniques like trepanation.  (This is possible, of course, that the knowledge was shared, but trepanation was independently invented at least several times over the course of human history.)
Asia Minor
  • 10 October. Mystery of mass graves in ancient Roman village under examination (Hurriyet). These mass graves were found in the ancient city of Pisidia Antiocheia and include 24 skeletons. They might be related to an epidemic that swept through between the 6th and 9th centuries AD, and the excavator thinks it may have been a family.
Gladiator blows. Via LiveScience.
Middle East
  • 30 September. Skeletons shed light on ancient earthquake in Israel (Discovery News). Archaeologists have found at least one skeleton (doesn't seem to be an MNI in the article) that they think was a person killed in a violent earthquake in 363 AD in the ancient city of Hippos.
Africa
  • 17 October. St. Mary's doctors determine 2,100-year-old "Mummy Girl" died of appendicitis (WPTV News).  For some reason, a bunch of radiologists scanned a mummy that's on display in a museum in West Palm Beach, Florida.  There's no suggestion for why they think she died of appendicitis (which isn't really common in young children, is it?).  They also apparently determined she was "Caucasian" which (even if we buy the idea that we could apply modern racial labels to people from 2,000 years ago, which WE CAN'T) is literally impossible from the bones of a child, so yeah.  No osteologists appear to have been consulted in this, even though there are plenty of us in this state.  Grrrr.  This kind of nonsense annoys me because you can't just xray or CT scan a mummy and assume that you have all the information a highly trained osteologist with expertise on human remains from the past would. (Another report suggests she died around 30 BC.)
News Items Relevant to Roman Bioarch
  • 11 October. The fatal attraction of lead (BBC News). Everyone loves lead poisoning lately, and this is a brief survey of its use over the last couple millennia.
Hope you all enjoy your Halloween!  I will get to last night's Bones as soon as I track down a copy, as my DVR messed up and didn't record it.  In the meantime, here are the cupcakes my 5-year-old made for the occasion:


October 23, 2014

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 19)

Welcome back to Who needs an osteologist?  Today, we have a special fantasy-chimera edition thanks to my husband, who was recently at GitHub HQ in San Francisco for an all-company meeting.  He snapped this picture of the "skeleton" of the famous GitHub Octocat:

Felis octocatus skeleton at GitHub headquarters

Octocat in the flesh

The sign below the display reads, "Octocat Skeleton. Felis octocatus.  This piece, which GitHub was lucky enough to receive from an anonymous donor, is the oldest known fossil evidence of an octocat. Carbon dating reveals the remarkably well-preserved remains to be approximately 6.3 million years old, suggesting that the evolutionary and taxonomical split between Felis silvestris and Felis octocatus gradually occurred somewhere off the coast of the South China Sea, when a constitutionally robust ancestor of octocatus ventured seaward, most likely as a result of the scarcity of rodent prey."

Yes, this is a cute mock-up of a fake animal.  But I can still rag on it, right?  To wit:
  • Carbon dating can only go back to about 60,000 years, not 6 million.  We can't actually directly date fossils that old; we have to use the context in which they were found (e.g., rock) and we have to use other elements, like uranium, potassium, and argon.
  • Felis silvestris showed up 2 million years ago, having come from the earlier Felis lunensis (around 2.5 million years ago), so it's impossible for Felis octocatus to have diverged from F. silvestris 6 million years ago. 
  • Octopuses have no bones.
  • So, assuming the majority of the skeleton in question would be similar to a cat--domesticated or ancient--it appears that
    • Each of the five arms (yes, the Octocat is a Pentacat) is composed primarily of what look like caudal vertebrae.
    • The rudimentary body is similar to the morphology of large cervical vertebrae, I guess.
    • The nasal opening is far too small for that of a cat.
    • Unless the Octocat is part primate, as it has large, forward-facing eyes and bony orbits more similar to lemurs' and monkeys' than to cats', the eyes are wrong.
    • I'm unaware of any mammal that has bony protrusions for the ears rather than, you know, ear-holes.
I have no artistic talent, though, so can't make a mock-up of what I think the Octocat should look like.  Anyone want to take a shot?

And GitHub... pretty please, could you change the sign so that the C14 information is corrected? A simple substitution of "uranium" or "potassium" for "carbon" should do.  It makes me twitchy.

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Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

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