ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
If you have any money to spare after rent, bills, Christmas presents etc, there are two osteoarchaeology-relevant causes that would appreciate a contribution.

The Grant Museum in London needs money to clean 39 of their mounted skeletons from extremely rare species (quagga, Ganges river dolphin etc). It's a really cool museum - Victorian style cluttered cases with skeletons, wet specimens, taxidermies etc - and since it's been around since 1828 as a teaching collection they have some really cool things in there. A visit is recommended.

Swedish archaeologists want to finish the excavation of one of the houses in Sandby ring fort, analyse the finds and publish the report. I thought I had linked to this interesting site before, but apparently not (or I just hid the link very well). Anyway, it's a ring fort on the island of Öland in the Baltic Sea, just off the Swedish coast. When the archaeologists did a small excavation a few years ago, they found not only lots of gold artefacts and Roman coins, but also several skeletons. The dead hadn't been buried, but left where they fell. Some showed evidence of battle injuries, suggesting that what we are seeing is the remains of a massacre. Not your average site! It's definitely worth watching the video on kickstarter to see some shiny shiny things (and some skeletons).
ossamenta: Picture of an owl from a Medieval manuscript (Medieval owl)
Last Monday I went to the National History Museum in Tring, to check some mystery bird bones against their skeleton collection. They have a huge collection, with birds from all over the world. But most importantly for my part, they also have a comparative collection, where the main bones from several specimens are collected by bone type, so you can compare your mystery bones between bones from different genera and species. This is of course much quicker than having to go from species to species. And once you have pinpointed the genera, you can if necessary go to the main collection and try to get the species right. It’s not always worth the time, as some species have minute differences and/or large overlap in size or great variation of morphological features. And that’s without acknowledging the possibility for birds from Africa or Asia being swept off course and ending up in Europe.

The day went well, and I could add buzzard, curlew, diver (either red-throated, black-throated or great northern diver) and gannet to the species list. I also did a quick genus id comparison for diver and grebe.

Upper humerus of diver (Gavia stellata) and grebe (Podiceps sp.)

I like the Natural History Museum in Tring. It was founded in 1892 as the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, being part of the Baron’s private collection. Parts of the building is still Victorian, but the majority of the galleries are modern, even if the specimens inside can be old. One of their more unusual exhibits is the domestic dog gallery, featuring, you guessed it: domestic dogs. Most of these dogs died a long time ago, and it is interesting to see how the species have changed over the years. Did you know that in the early 20th century dachshunds looked like this? Quite a difference from today, isn't it?


ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)

January 2019

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