I haven’t updated in a while. I’m very sorry.
I would like to offer my gratitude to everyone who as taken the time to inform me of their interest in my blog. I’m deeply grateful for your support, and am elated to see so much interest in morphology.
Unfortunately, It’s been very difficult to keep up with the volume of correspondence I receive. I’m sorry I haven’t replied to all of your letters.
Many of the letters I receive often contain similar questions, so I’d like to take the time now to address these recurrent concerns.
Do you kill these animals or are they already dead when find them?
No, all of the specimens are collected from natural deaths, donated or already part of the collection. Necropsy is rather interesting. Whenever possible, I try to determine cause of death. Etched in each bone and woven into the fibers of each muscle is the life and death of the individual.
It’s a story that deserves to be told.
How do you go about bleaching clean bones?
“How to bleach?” is by far, the single most common question I encounter. There is no single answer and everyone has different techniques. Personally I use non-chlorine bleach. It is a concentrated Hydrogen Peroxide solution, and is available at most grocery stores.
The concentration depends on the delicacy of the specimen. I use it straight for larger, more robust things such as deer. For smaller, more delicate specimens like birds, I dilute it with water and monitor closely to avoid over bleaching.
During bleaching, I take out the bones once in a while, and wash and dry them to check. You can always continue to bleach if the bones are not sufficiently clean, but over bleaching will damage bone.
Will you send me some reference photos of a specimen?
Yes, but I get a lot of requests for photos, so it might take a while. Please limit requests for photos to about 5 per request. Be specific about what you want and I’ll check if I have anything that suits your needs.
Is your blog named after a quote?
No. Ars Anatomica is Latin for “The Art of Anatomy.”
What do you do with the skeletons you clean most of the time?
It varies. I’m often asked to clean stuff for various departments and faculty at the college. These specimens (often rare and cool stuff,) are cleaned per departmental specifications and returned. Specimens that belong to me personally are kept. I may try to mount them depending on condition. Animals collected from roadkill often have large scale bone shattering in the skull, vertebral column or rib cage and pelvis areas. These types of shattering injuries are difficult to repair, making many of these skeletons unmountable. If I have a spare pelvis lying around I’ll try to swap it out.
Most of the time. I just enjoy looking at them. Bones read like good books.
What did you study/ major in?
I majored in art and biology. For the art aspect, I focused on illustration. For biology, I focused on tetrapod morphology.
The pregnant doe that you posted about is the worst thing I have ever seen. How can people be so cruel?
I get a decent amount of mail about that post. As tragic as this accident was, I don’t think it was avoidable. She was killed in the wee hours of the morning, on an unlit highway that was heavily wooded on both sides. The speed limit was 75mph.
It’s awful, but I can’t think of any way that this accident could have been averted. The doe and the driver were both at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I’m a biology student. How do I learn to draw anatomical diagrams?
I’m not sure that I can offer any advice beyond the importance of general practice. It’s true that I draw a lot of anatomical diagrams, but I also enjoy drawing a large variety of random things. I think every little bit of practice helps. Even if you want to draw diagrams, it’s important to not confine yourself to drawing only diagrams.
Apologies for the delay and thanks again for your interest and support.
For viewers with specific concerns, data, literature and photo requests. Please accept my apologies. I’m slowly working through them.