January 17, 2014

#ICanHaz3DModel (or, The Purple Hyoid)

None of the dozen study skeletons we have for teaching human osteology has a hyoid.  I was lamenting this fact earlier in the week and considering scanning the crappy plastic hyoid we have from our articulated skeleton (affectionately dubbed Skeletor by the students in a nod to both He-Man and our governor). But I decided to try something new: put out a call on Twitter for a 3D model made from a real hyoid. Whenever I need a copy of an article that I can't get (or am too impatient to wait for interlibrary loan to send it to me), I try out the well-known hashtag #ICanHazPDF, and I've always gotten a quick response.  So on Monday, I wrote:

In under 15 minutes, I had a response from Tom O'Mahoney (@bones2bytes), a biological anthropologist at the University of Manchester.  He offered to scan a human hyoid from their collection and send it to me within the week.  Even better, he posted the .stl file on GitHub so anyone can download it:
I had a chance to print it out this afternoon:

Immediately after printing

A touch wonky on the body, but I can
take a scalpel to it.
Needless to say, I am cheesy excited this worked.  In just a few days and for a few hours of two researchers' time, I am now able to give my students hyoid models to study in class this semester.  I'd like to get a couple more hyoid scans, to show a range of variation.  And I also need some coccyges... only one sacrum of the dozen study skeletons has a coccyx.  

So, uhm, #ICanHaz3DModel of a coccyx?


Danielle Henderson said...

So how would one learn about obtaining these 3D models? As an undergrad at NCSU, a lot of our study materials are terrible casts of bones (our sweet, loving, and slightly terrifying professor is trying very hard to get better specimens, but that is sometimes easier said than done), and our tests are based on fragmented pieces of bones with no fragments to study with... and these 3D models seem like they may provide a solution to our problems, if the price is right! ;)

Because knowing that you'll be tested on the cross-section of an ulna, radius, etc. when you only have complete bones is rather daunting, and some of us prefer our hearts to be attack free?

Kristina Killgrove said...

Ideally, there would be some central repository for these sorts of models. As it is, various people have them in various places. And I can't think of anyone who has fragments, other than perhaps Digitised Diseases.

Bone Clones does make fragment casts. Perhaps you could ask your professor to purchase a set, so that you have stuff to study from? I do put fragments on the quizzes even though they study from medical skeletons, but they're not teeny fragments and they all have diagnostic features on them.

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