Digitised Diseases site makes 1,600 specimens available for doctors and members of the public to study for free
- by Maev Kennedy“The bones of a young woman who died of syphilis more than 500 years ago, the reassembled jaw of a man whose corpse was sold to surgeons at the London hospital in the 19th century and the contorted bone of an 18th-century man who lived for many years after he was shot through the leg, are among the remains of hundreds of individuals which can now be studied in forensic detail on a new website.
The Digitised Diseases website, to be launched on Monday at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, brings together 1,600 specimens, many from people with excruciating conditions including leprosy and rickets, from stores scattered across various university and medical collections. The original crumbling bones of some specimens now available in 3D scans are too fragile to be handled. The database is intended for professionals, but is also available free to members of the public who may be fascinated by the macabre specimens.
"We believe this will be a unique resource both for archaeologists and medical historians to identify diseases in ancient specimens, but also for clinicians who can see extreme forms of chronic diseases which they would never see nowadays in their consulting rooms, left to progress unchecked before any medical treatment was available. These bones show conditions only available before either by travelling to see them, or in grainy black and white photographs in old textbooks," said Andrew Wilson, senior lecturer in forensic and archaeological sciences at the University of Bradford and the lead researcher on the project He added: “I do think members of the public will also find them gripping - they do have what one observer called ‘a grotesque beauty’.”
Know your bones!
Finally finished my summer project of sketching and studying the human skeletal system. Definitely a good and relaxing way to spend time, especially if you’re overly technical like me and want things to be exact/perfect. (See the labeling of the vertebrae?) It could probably use a few more views and angles, but it’s time to move on to other projects.
Yeah that’s right!
- by Efthymia Nikita, David Mattingly and Marta Mirazón Lahr
“The present paper compares different statistical tests on presence/absence (dichotomous) data for degenerative joint disease (DJD) and degenerative disc disease (DDD) from Late Holocene North African populations. The aim is to assess the most efficient statistical model for such analyses. Our results suggest that generalized linear models (GLM) give practically identical results to the conventional Chi-square tests, Fisher’s Exact tests and Cochran–Mantel–Haenszel partial correlations. Moreover, GLM allow for the examination of the impact of several predictors on the outcome variable, namely age, sex, population and body mass, as well as the interaction of these predictors on DJD/DDD expression. GLM additionally offer insights as to whether each factor correlates positively or negatively with the outcome variable and permit the modeling of the experimental data. As a result, we argue that GLM should be preferentially used in place of conventional tests. Moreover, both binary and linear GLM give convergant results despite the outcome variable DJD/DDD being dichotomous. Therefore, considering that the binary models occasionally present computational problems and the simplicity of the linear models, the linear form may be preferred” (read more/open access).
I went behind the scenes of the SMM last thursday. This is a 2-headed calf skull. The calf had two almost separate heads and two distinct brains, but one foramen magnum/spinal chord.
Figure 1) Diagram showing the seventeen cranial suture sites.
Figure 2) Table demonstrating Meindl and Lovejoy (1985)’s composite scores of the sutures on the vault and lateral-anterior, respectively, in relation to mean chronological age.
Quick Tips: How To Estimate The Chronological Age Of A Human Skeleton – Cranial Suture Closure Method.
This is the 4th blog post in this Quick Tips series on chronologically dating human skeletal remains, if you haven’t read the first post click here to start at the beginning. In my previous blog post I introduced the method of chronologically dating sub-adults using dentition, you can find out this information by clicking here.
Another method of chronologically aging human skeletal remains is by observing the cranial suture closure sites. The human skull has seventeen unique cranial fusion sites (Figure 1), that are positioned on the vault, the lateral-anterior sites, and the maxillary suture.
Danny Quirk, an artist working in Massachusetts… creates body paintings with latex, markers and some acrylic that appear as if his models’ skin is peeled back.
The project began in 2012, when Halloween provided the occasion for Quirk to paint his roommate’s face and neck. From there, he made other anatomical paintings on the arms, backs and legs of willing friends, and his photographs went viral.
“The paintings started off very rough around the edges, having a ripped skin aesthetic,” says Quirk, “but as they grew, I started making them more anatomical, showing the adipose around the cuts and proper layering of nerves and vessels. I really started making medical illustrations in a new and different way than what was done before. I made ‘living lectures’ for lack of a better term.”
Quirk has his sights set on a career in biomedical illustration. He graduated from the Pratt Institute in New York in 2010, with a bachelor of fine arts in illustration, and then applied to medical schools. Without having some of the necessary science prerequisites, he wasn’t admitted, so he got a little creative. Kathy Dooley, a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, asked Quirk to do 10 to 15 illustrations for her class, and he did a little bartering, trading the artwork for a spot in her doctorate-level gross anatomy course. It was in this class that the artist got to dissect a cadaver.
“Let’s just say, the books are much prettier than the real thing. In the books, everything is color coded and pretty, where as in the labs, everything was grey, with the exception of tendons, which have a beautiful, silvery iridescent shine to them,” he says. “I learned first hand that despite its drab hue, the body is a fabulously constructed machine. It’s like lace that can stop bullets—the intricacy of its inner workings are so fine and delicate, and yet the strength and durability behind each structure is unreal.”
Quirk likes to say that he now dissects with his paintbrush. To some extent, the subject of a painting is determined by the model, and his or her features, he explains. If he has a volunteer with a particularly muscular neck, he’ll add his flourishes there.
“When you find bony landmarks, it’s just a matter of hooking the right muscles up to the right places on the bones, and coloring it in from there,” says Quirk. Of course, the time he spends on any anatomical painting depends on its size and complexity. A full rendering of a model’s back, with not just superficial musculature but also the deep intrinsics, can take up to 14 hours to complete, though the average illustration demands about four to six hours.
One of the advantages of Quirk’s anatomical body paintings is that they dynamic, compared to other biomedical illustrations, which are static images. ”I paint my anatomy very precisely, making sure to match up origins and insertions, so that when the model moves, the painting moves with it, really illustrating what happens under the skin,” he says.
Quirk is trying to arrange some guest speaking gigs at schools, where he’d use his body painting to teach anatomy. He is also working on a timelapse video of a painting in progress, overlaid with educational notes.
“Aside from that, I really want to find a bald head,” he says. [x]