September 30, 2015

This Month at Forbes - Bioarchaeology, forensics, palaeoanthropology, tattoos, and more!

I've been derelict in posting a link round-up of my Forbes stuff here at PbO.  So here is the month of September.
  • September 24 - The hunt for Mona Lisa's bones is a publicity stunt, not science.  *le sigh* I've written here at PbO about Mona Lisa's bones every.single.year and it's gotten tiresome.  This post hasn't gotten very many hits, but it's gotten some quality engagement from people who also agree that this is more show than science.

Coming up in October... Bones is back tomorrow, and I'll actually be covering it at Forbes (but will put links here too). I'm a little nervous to bring the reviews there, and you'll see a bit of a format change, but some of the snark will stay.

Not sure how much else I'll be able to do, since I have a lot of research and writing projects coming up.  Then again, I say that every month...

Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival LXXV

Links this month are few but really interesting...

Lead sarcophagus from Lucca, Imperial-era. (via
Roman-style sarcophagus from Israel (via Discovery News)
  • 16 September - 16 pyramids discovered in ancient cemetery (LiveScience). The Kingdom of Kush was just south of Egypt and known to the classical Greeks and Romans (although it seems the Kushites governed themselves). These new tombs are from around the 1st century AD.
Roman Bio/archaeology in the 21st century
  • 24 September - FSU archaeology brings ancient artifacts to life (FSU News). A bunch of 3D printed Etruscan ceramics from Cetamura del Chianti are on display at FSU for the next 6 weeks or so.  Might need to make a pilgrimage down to Tallahassee for this.

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 30)

We here at "Who needs an osteologist?" love Halloween because it brings an abundance of cheap skeletons -- both inexpensive and shoddily made, that is.  We are also not speciesist (it's a legit word; I looked it up!), so in today's installment we give you... spider skeletons.

And here's a similar offering from Party City:

Skeleton... exoskeleton... same difference, amiright?

(h/t Patrick Reynolds)

Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

September 10, 2015

Homo naledi 3D scans available on MorphoSource

Via Steve Churchill comes the news that 3D models of major specimens of the newly-named Homo naledi are available on MorphoSource.

I picked the first metacarpal, U.W. 101-1321, because as I read through the Berger et al. paper on the anatomy and morphology of H. naledi, the metacarpals really struck me -- they're rather unique among hominins but very similar across the members of this species.

I downloaded the model as an .STL file, ran it through MakerWare to generate an .x3g file, and then printed it using my trusty old MakerBot.  It took 20 minutes, tops.

Then I gave the model to a grad student who was heading in to teach the undergraduate lab in biological anthropology.  Bam! Species-announcement-to-teaching-cast in under 12 hours.

This is a really fantastic resource, and even if you don't have a 3D printer, you should check out the great models and play around with them.

Awww, I love my little H. naledi thumb bone! So tiny, yet so muscular!

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 29)

Today's big news is, of course, Homo naledi, a new hominin species discovered in South Africa.  Every major (and most minor) news outlet is covering it.  (I wrote it up for Forbes here: "A New Human Ancestor Arises from the Depths of a South African Cave.")

The New York Times?  Well, they need an osteologist.  Badly.  The reconstructed skull they are showing (as of 7:22 eastern time) on their front page is, to any biological anthropologist, obviously not H. naledi.  The cast is of a hominin nicknamed Mrs Ples, an Australopithecus africanus specimen found in 1947.
Front page.  FRONT. PAGE. Jeezum, NY Times.

Also wrong in the article. Oof. Someone's getting fired...

Good work, New York Times!  Might want to hire yourself an osteologist... or at least an editor who can recognize that that image was not in the press packet.

Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

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