I’m trying out new layouts today to make the blog easier to navigate. Please bear with me.
Hey there! Thanks so much for your continued patronage. To be honest, I’m surprised that anyone still reads my blog after my year long hiatus. A lot of things happened. I graduated from my program, losing access to my lab. After my brother passed away, I moved across the country and went to China several times. Right now, I’m having a hard time finding a job related to biology,...
Anonymous asked: Thanks for the fascinating blog, although I can't quite fathom the thought processes that lead to manually collecting roadkill skunk juice. Made for a compelling read though, especially with those excellent diagrams.
The mechanism of grasp
While looking at the little screech owl, I took a series of photographs and made this gif to illustrate the of the automatic grasping action of the talons. The structure of bird feet is set up so that the foot automatically grasps when the ankle joint is bent. This automatic grip allow birds to sleep while perching, and for raptors clench/grasp prey as the leg is folded on impact. The...
Eastern Screech Owl
Isn’t he cute? He looks almost alive. Unfortunately, he’s not. This little guy is an eastern screech owl. Following a heavy storm, he was found dead on a residential street, entangled in some fallen branches at the base of a utility pole. I’ve previously posted a picture of him before. I’ve never had the opportunity to look at owls close up. He’s recently...
Zoo Kingdom for Facebook
A while ago, I was asked create a series of fact cards for Zoo Kingdom, a facebook game made by Blue Fang Games, the makers of Zoo Tycoon. Each species introduced in the game, had a series of fact cards that aimed to introduce some aspects of their natural history, morphology and ecology. I made about 150 of these. Below are my personal favorites.
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...
Baby Skunk Necropsy
Taking apart the baby skunk. In the interests of length, this entry is mostly about internal organs. All images are linked to high res versions, click to view. NOTE: This post contains graphic images of an animal being skinned and photos of internal organs. It is NSFW and R-18G. Click “Read more” if you wish to see it. All prep work begins with skinning. In trauma, the elasticity of the...
This baby skunk was picked up yesterday. His teeth are perfect and show no wear. Elongated front claws for digging. He’s very small This poor little guy is just a baby. He’s only the size of a squirrel and probably less than two months old. Just like the fawn, he was probably crossing the street with mom when he was hit. He’s still on his first coat of soft baby...
Here are some old and new photos of skulls I cleaned. With the exception of the sugar glider, these are all local North American species. Skunk, Coyote, Bear, Deer. Coyote, Spotted Skunk, Black Bear Black bear Crow Skull Marrow cavity of a groundhog pelvis. Cervical & thoracic vertebrae from a groundhog. Most burrowing animals have robust neck vertebrae that are tightly...
Happy Birthday Mimi!
Today is my brother’s birthday. He is officially 20. Mimi is adopted. Twenty years ago, he was picked up from a box of free kittens outside Walmart. He was one of a litter of five. At the time, he was only three weeks old. We fed him with a dropper until he was weaned. He’s been with us ever since. We go many places together. We have many adventures. Here he is...
Color and detail II
It’s often the case, that only in death can many animals be examined in detail; their intricacy of texture and form eludes the eye admidst the fleeting motion of life. I had originally put this together with the previous post, but had trouble loading so many images. Click on the images for high res photos. The chin scales of a timber rattle snake. The head of the smooth fronted caiman....
Color and detail
It’s often the case, that only in death can many animals be examined in detail; their intricacy of texture and form eludes the eye admidst the fleeting motion of life. Click on the images for high res photos. This is parakeet. The projections on the foot of this red tailed hawk are called “spicules.” They are specialized scales that increase the surface area and help...
Anonymous asked: Hello, I have just come across your blog today, and I have to say it is strikingly fascinating and beautiful; the detail, images, explanation and language you use, both technical and wildly poetic, somehow combine to make this an extremely valuable piece of writing, for being personal and still informative. For a while I have been searching for a blog such as yours, which doesn't simply,...
Anonymous asked: How did you get started in morphology?
A Little Bit of Trivia.
There seems to be a fair number of people who read my blog, so I’ve decided try out some interactive. I’ve put together a couple questions below. Would you like to take a guess? Question 1: This is a tray of skulls from a small museum I worked for. What are the two skulls at the front of the tray? (Hint: One of them should be very easy, as I’ve previously...
A dead sugar glider takes on new life as a skeletal mount. Photos from start to finish of my first skeletal mount. ATTENTION: This post contains graphic images of an animal being skinned as well as injuries. It is NSFW and R-18G. Click “Read more” if you wish to see it. This is “Crash”. “Crash” is a young male sugar glider that lived with his cagemate...
Strange and beautiful. The partially everted hemipenes of a diamondback rattlesnake. The paired penises of snakes, called Hemipenes rest within the tail, stored outside-in like a sock. During copulation, the structure everts, turning inside out to expose it’s surface of bony spines. The dilated iris of a cat, hit by a car. The last reminder of a fleeting life, in the shredded ruins...
Some New Skulls
Here are some new skulls for my collection. Smooth-fronted Caiman skull (Paleosuchus trigonatus). This is a groundhog skull. Although his skull is mostly intact, he is missing his incisors. They were broken when he was hit by a car. Parrot fish skull. This is the first articulated fish skull I’ve prepped. It came out fairly nice. Speaking of parrots here’s a...
My first mount
Today I completed my first full body skeletal mount. It’s a sugar glider skeleton. For my first time, I’m fairly pleased with the result…a little proud even. It’s got some rough areas, but I’m pleased that the life like pose turned out well. The mandible (lower jaw) is movable and can be opened and closed. I attached the hyoid and the cartilaginous rings of...
Some recent skeletons
Here are two skulls I cleaned recently. On the left is a dog and on the right, a coyote. Here’s a side view of the same skulls as above. Notice that the dog has a more angled face and prominent forehead than the coyote. Timber Rattlesnake skeleton A detail shot of the tail. The mass near the end are the remains of the calcified spines of the hemipenes. (Snake penises are called...
Ars Anatomica began life as a picture thread on a gaming forum… After migrating this into blog form, Ive spent a lot of time assembling narrative posts that make an attempt to tell the stories behind the specimens I work with, and also the narrative inherent in anatomy. But there’s still merit in posts that are simply images, like these. This is a vial of salamander skeletons....
Some photos of my work space. This is a cat. His skull was badly shattered when I got him, so I had to remove it. Luckily, the rest of him was in good shape, and gave me fantastic opportunity to take a detailed look at the muscles of the front and hind limbs.
Life in its intricacy
A few years ago, I visited an human anatomy exhibition in New York. Amidst plastinated bodies and jarred fetuses was a vascular injection of a human arm. The vessels of the arm had been injected with a dye that had solidified, and the tissue of the arm, including the bone had been melted away, leaving only the vessels to delineate the missing form. (It’s very similar to this one) Thick...
Impact and Injury
In shreds of muscle and shards of bone lies a story of how life and death transpired. This is a brief look at a cat hit by a car. This post is extremely graphic and contains images of injuries and internal organs. NSFW R-18G [[MORE]] We picked her up at a busy intersection. She’s a stray, her head is hopelessly crushed, and her fur is dirty and matted. The skull damage is not...
Today seems like a good day for Mantis shrimp. They’re fascinating creatures with bizarre anatomy, and exhibit some surprisingly complex behavior for crustaceans. Mantis shrimp are named after their mantis-like front claws. In Chinese, they’re known as Pipa shrimp, named after their resemblance to the Pipa, a traditional string instrument. In Japanese they’re known as...
onedayallthiscouldbeyours asked: I’ve only just come across your tumblr, this is awesome! I’ve been thinking about getting a rabbit’s head cause I want the skull, but I seen all the awesome stuff you have on here! Wow, where did you learn to do this? Hello there, and thanks for your interest in my blog. I’m somewhat of a novice myself. I worked for a small museum for...
James brought in this buffalo head for us from a farm in Pennsylvania. We’ll be taking the first steps to prepare his skull today, as well as take a look at some interesting features. Ive done a moose before, when I was being trained. But to date, this buffalo would have been the largest head Ive worked on. Note: The following post shows skinning and defleshing. NSFW R-18G ...
A tell tale wound.
Despite appearances, wounds and injuries have their own stories to tell. WARNING: Photos of graphic injuries. NSFW, R-18G We picked up these guys (a buck and a doe) at the side of a busy freeway. They had both been hit pretty hard and had broken legs and internal injuries. The bodies were in poor condition, so we only took the heads. The doe still had a mouthful of grass. Evidently,...
Morphology is fascinating…..but other times it’s just cool…. or downright beautiful. The interdigitations of serratus are stunningly beautiful. Its insertions fan out over the ribcage with a certain mechanical decorum, inserting between the intercostals, whispering of a time when bodies were mere sequences of repeated segments. Speaking of mechanical decorum, look at the...
We picked up this girl this morning. She was lying on the grassy median on one of the interstates. She was probably hit the night before. She has no external injuries, not even a single laceration. That foreleg is obviously broken, and blood draining from the anus and mouth indicates internal injuries. Warning: NSFW. Pictures of fetuses. Bloody organs. R-18G [[MORE]] I’m opening...
Happy Valentines Day!
Holy Heartstrings! It’s Valentines day! Most people have heard the the expression “To tug one’s heartstrings”, in reference garnering sympathy. Unbeknownst to most, the heartstrings, better known as the “tendinous cords” are real anatomical features of the heart. See those threads? The tendinous cords also known as chordae tendineae, attach to...
Defleshing a Coyote
James gifted me with a few decapitated coyotes donated by his taxidermist. Lets take a look inside mystery bag number 1. Please be aware that post is extremely gory and graphic. Ive tried to keep to gore to an acceptable level by changing the color on some of the photos. It is nonetheless, R-18G and NSFW [[MORE]] It’s a male. Headless, pawless, tail-less and skinned. This kind of...
Javelina skull. Javelinas, also know as peccaries, are new world wild pigs. Their skulls can be readily distinguished from that of feral pigs by the downward pointing tusk. I think the most interesting thing about looking at bones, are the stories that they tell about how the animal lived…. and died. I defleshed this snapping turtle head today. He had a lot of lesions on him, and was...
This was a PIXIV image response that asks the artist to assemble their best images from each month. I had a difficult time assembling this. January through April I did over 250 illustrations. I don’t remember the beginning of the year very well. The summer months I made almost all sketches and very little creature work through the end of the year. Overall, I really haven’t made too...
This is my small collection at home. Coyote skull Crow skull. The beaks of birds are made of a keratin sheath over a bone. Here, the keratin sheath has fallen apart during preparation. That’s why the beak is white like the rest of the skull.
Reptile CT scans
Here are some CT scans of various reptiles. In order from the top, a tegu, a coastal carpet python and a caiman. Here’s another angle of the tegu. Look at his large cheeks! He’s a large male, and those muscles are used for submission biting in fights with other males. A big snapping turtle. Take a look at the hook in his throat! Here, Ive used a modeling program to...
Dermestid Beetles are being used to clean a coyote skull. Dermestid beetles are flesh-eating beetles are that used by museums to clean skeletons. Ever see “The Mummy”? Yeah…just like that. These guys in the photo are my personal colony. This is a bear skull. It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of the structures. It occurred to me one morning that the sight the...
Some Assembly Required
Here’s a set of deer limbs that I prepped and cleaned some time ago. I’m getting ready to mount these. Here, all the relevant components have been identified. Small bones have been glued together. The Humerus, Ulna and Radius. The large flange at the end of the radius, is called the Olecranon process. It’s the attachment point for the triceps muscle and is especially...