For some cultures death is the beginning of a purification process that starts with decomposition and ends with skeletonization. These people believe that when a loved one takes his or her final breathe it is the beginning of a journey to the land of the ancestors, and the corpse must completely decay before a soul is considered purified and can ascend to the Afterlife.
There are typically two burial phases in some of these societies: initial and secondary burial. During the first, or initial burial, the body maybe buried or exposed while it decays, and the funeral ceremony during this phase marks the beginning of the soul’s journey. Once the remains are completely skeletonized the bones are collected, cleaned, and placed in a secondary burial, like an ossuary. At this point the deceased is considered truly dead and the soul is resurrected to join the rest of their ancestors in the Land of the Dead.
Badger appreciation post.
Because my boy sure is purdy.
A strange and wonderful discovery while exploring Wellington’s boutique curio shops: a tiny pewter cast of OH5 (Paranthropus boisei) with articulated mandible.
It was produced by a man named Steven Saunders in addition to H. erectus and H. neanderthalensis. He’s a sculptor for Weta Workshop here in NZ. It’s really lovely work. I hope I can find the others one day.
This genus is my baby. I can’t explain how much I want this. I’m not one for the skull accessories but I covet P. boisei’s little brass head. He looks so happy too. A mini Zinj, a perfect find.
Long before the Fox network brought TV viewers a crime-fighting Ph.D. who can tell what happened to a victim based on his bones, Kristen Hartnett knew that’s what she wanted to do for a living. She earned her Ph.D. from ASU in 2007 and became a forensic anthropologist, the job she now holds at New York City’s Chief Medical Examiner’s office.
Forensic anthropologists identify victims from skeletal remains and try to figure how their lives ended. Hartnett started her college career studying archaeology, but switched to forensic anthropology when she realized the field could satisfy her interests while making a difference for people in grief.
“I’d been doing archaeology and looking at bones, but I wondered how it mattered,” she recalled. “No one (who is living) would be helped by me digging up a 2,000-year-old Mayan king.” In contrast, her current role lets her help families know what befell loved ones and move through the sad details of loss, such as funerals and insurance paperwork.
Harnett calls her job “a puzzle that sometimes has answers. In archaeology, you may find a tomb, but you never know if your theories are correct. With forensic cases, you do the analysis and, once you fill in the blanks, you can often see how accurate you were.”
Early in her doctoral studies, Harnett began volunteering her skills as a member of a government- sponsored disaster-response team. Through it, she was deployed to identify victims in the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
“My work for 9/11 made it clear to me that I did want to do this type of work to give families closure,” she said. Along with their normal caseload, her team continues to work on 9/11 remains. “Everyone killed was issued death certificates, but 41 percent of the missing have not been identified. That’s why we’re still working on it.”
Note: Kathy Reichs first published “Déjà Dead” in 1997. So the character Temperance Brennan still predates this woman getting her degree. Yo, people, books tend to predate the TV series that are based on them.
So… the point of this article was to celebrate Kristen Hartnett’s accomplishment’s after receiving her Ph.D. Yes.. Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist who popularized the field in the public’s eyes “before” Dr. Hartnett finished her degree. The reference to the TV show was not to ignore the Reichs book, but the general public did not read the book and they do know the show “Bones.” As sick as I am of people asking me, “So… so… you’re like BONES?!?!” it is sometimes a necessary evil to help someone quickly understand what I do. There is no reason to reblog and diminish this woman’s amazing contributions to the field just because the show was referenced instead of the book.
In case others didn’t get the point, let me break down some of what this woman has done in the field:
-For her dissertation she extracted hundreds of pubic bones from cadavers and analyzed the symphyseal pubic surface to update the Suchey and Brooks method.
-Those extracted pubic bones are still available at ASU and add to the much needed database of modern human skeletal bones available for analysis.
-She was hired soon after 9/11 to help excavate through the rubble and aid in identifying remains. She continues in this effort even today. She is even willing to talk on the phone to the families of victims to explain the exact procedures used and answer any other questions they have.
-On top of her organization of the 9/11 remains, she works on the current cases that come her way at the OCME. The cases can range from high profile murder cases to something as small as a rib fracture.
-She hasn’t fallen into the trap of working though, and stays active in academia by continuing to publish.
-She has been declared one of the diplomats of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (D-ABFA), which has less than 100 members.
-She teaches part-time at NYU.
-She organizes the forensic anthropology internship program run through the OCME and helps train the interns.
Kathy Reichs isn’t the only forensic anthropologist out there and this should be made aware. I’d say Dr. Hartnett has accomplished quite a bit since receiving her degree in 2007.
Some of Hartnett’s publications:
Sculptor & Artist:
Sculpture Réalisée à Partir de Matériaux Récupérés sur les Plages.
87 cm x 40 cm x 105 cm
Meet Lucy, a 3.2 million-year-old ancestor of ours. Though she looks like an ape, her knees were close together, just like a human’s! That positioned her feet directly under her body and made walking easier.
See the final installment of Your Inner Fish tomorrow night (4/23) on PBS at 10/9c.
Look at that strut
Get it, Lucy.
"At the End of the Rainbow" (1946)
As the school year winds to a close, another class of students nears graduation and will be asked the inevitable question: “So, what’s next?”
I wrote a piece over at the PLOS Student Blog about my experience looking for non-academic jobs. If you’re a PhD student or postdoc curious about your career options, go check it out!
so this is what I did instead of sleeping last night
William Shakespeare depicted King Richard III as a crooked ruler, due to the monarch’s supposed ruthless demeanor and his curved spine. A new study suggests that in addition to scoliosis, Richard III suffered from a roundworm infection.
Interest and research into the monarch has spiked since…
gettin real tired of my own bullshit