I found a good example of linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) in my cranial sample today. LEH is a developmental complication in which the regular growth of dental enamel is interrupted due to physiological stress. This interruption results in horizontal lines across the teeth. One example of a physiological stressor on developing individuals that may cause LEH would be a period of food shortage.
This individual exhibited two distinct hypoplastic bands across the anterior teeth, which may suggest more than one significant period of stress.
The discovery of a 6,500-year-old piece of beeswax provides insight into the origins of dentistry.
In a paper published in PLoS One, a multidisciplinary group at Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Italy reports that an analysis of a human jaw found over a century ago in Slovenia shows evidence for what may be the earliest case of a therapeutic filling in human history.
The jawbone belongs to what would have been a man in his late twenties who lived during the Neolithic period. A vertical crack on his left canine had exposed some of the inner enamel and tissues within the tooth called dentin. To patch the problem, somebody — it’s not clear whether the procedure was done before or after the man died — stuffed the hole with beeswax. Given the degree of dental damage, researchers who examined the jaw believe it would’ve been pretty painful, and that the beeswax was used to reduce discomfort in the tooth.
The remains were unearthed over 100 years ago, but the filling managed to escape notice until now — possible nobody knew to look for it. Examples of ancient dentistry are extremely rare. In any case, after discovering the filling, scientists used carbon dating to find out how old the beeswax was, and even created a digital 3D model of the original tooth.
Marking the 450th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s Birth
Every year at the end of April, a celebration of the life and works of the great playwright William Shakespeare takes place in the market town of Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Shakespeare was born there in 1564 and cultural celebrations in Stratford’s streets, with entertainers, street performers and traditional Morris dancers, go back hundreds of years.
From his plays to his sonnets, Shakespeare’s extensive works have produced a legacy of characters, ideas, histories and, of course, words—it is thought he contributed more than 2,000 to the English language. His plays are a staple on many school curriculums, and continue to be reinterpreted on stage, rewritten in fiction and retold on screen.
The man himself is still very much a mystery and few details exist about his private life. Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway with whom he bore three children, before relocating to London to pursue his acting and writing career. He died at the age of 52 on April 23, 1616—a date which fell very near to his birthday in the same month (the exact date is unknown).
This year marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and, on Saturday, a special procession will take place in Stratford, ending with celebrants laying flowers on Shakespeare’s grave in the Holy Trinity Church. The world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company will also host a full program of shows.
Happy birthday, Shakespeare! Read what the Globe Theater has in store to celebrate.
I’ve been to Stratford! Loved it.
The inside of the 850-year-old king’s coffinUPDATED: Scientists in Sweden pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits.
Photo Taken Nineteen Hours After The Last Day’s Battle On The Field At Gettysburg 1863
The turning point of the Civil War is the Battle of Gettysburg. From that day the Confederate cause began to wane. Few battles of modern times show such great percentage of loss. Out of the one hundred and sixty thousand men engaged on both sides, forty-four thousand were killed or wounded. Brady’s cameras reached the field of battle in time to perpetuate some of its scenes. The ghastliness of the pictures is such that it is with some hesitation that any of them are presented in these pages. It is on the horrors of war, however, that all pleas of peace are based. Only by depicting its gruesomeness can the age of arbitration be hastened. It is with this in mind that this photograph is here revealed. There is probably not another in existence that witnesses more fearful tragedy.
The photograph is taken on the field of Gettysburg about nineteen hours after the last day’s battle. It shows a Union soldier terribly mutilated by a shell of a Confederate gun. His arm is torn off and may be seen on the ground near his musket. The shell that killed this soldier disemboweled him in its fiendishness. This picture is as wonderful as it is horrible and should do more in the interest of peace than any possible argument.
Something of the bloodshed on the battlefield of Gettysburg may be understood when it is considered that the battlefield, which covered nearly twenty-five square miles, was literally strewn with dead bodies, many of them mutilated even worse than the one in this picture. The surviving veterans of Gettysburg have seen war’s most horrible aspects. Gallant and daring commanders led those brave men in that three days’ inferno, from the first to the third of July, in 1863.
The Project Gutenburg EBook of Original Photographs Taken on the Battlefields during the Civil War by Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner
When I tell people that I am an anthropologist, they are often confused about what I do. The most common assumption is that I dig up dinosaur bones. Here is a song I wrote hoping to clear the issue up a bit.
Remember that time I did a thing? I’m still proud of this dorky song. I plan to play it for the undergrads I will teach in the future.
This is perfect.
Discussing Magdalenian woman with thebrainscoop while she’s getting scanned in the background!
Skull of the Magdalenian Woman, cranium of the most complete Upper Paleolithic skeleton in North America, dating between 17,000-12,000 BP. She was discovered in 1911 in the mouth of the Cap-Blanc cave in France when an excavation crew accidentally struck her head with a pick axe. She was reconstructed from the broken pieces in the 1930s but was left looking more ape- than human-like. Today we are taking her to be CT scanned on a microscopic level in order to rebuild the skull in software, which will eventually be 3D printed, in order to have a more physiologically accurate model without risking damage to the original. TECHNOLOGY (at The Field Museum)
This is how I’m spending my day!
Morbid Monday: Resurrection Through Decomposition
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 breath, 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 may be 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.
Secondary burials have been practiced by many cultures throughout history into the modern era. Below is a discussion of burials customs of Jews of the early Roman Empire; burial customs of Southern Italy that were practiced until the early 20th century; and the Malagasy famadihana, or turning of the bones, which is practiced today.
The Jews of the early Roman Empire practiced a burial custom called ossilegium between 30 BCE and 70 CE. Ossilegium, a Latin word that means the collection of the bones, was a two-part process.
American alligator proximal pedal phalanges resemble human ﬁnger bones: diagnostic criteria for forensic investigators
Authors: Joseph V. Ferraro and Katie M. Binetti
Forensic Science International, 2014
A scientific approach to bone and tooth identification requires analysts to pursue the goal of empirical falsification. That is, they may attribute a questioned specimen to element and taxon only after having ruled out all other possible attributions. This requires analysts to possess a thorough understanding of both human and nonhuman osteology, particularly so for remains that may be morphologically similar across taxa. To date, forensic anthropologists have identified several potential ‘mimics’ for human skeletal remains, including pig teeth and bear paws. Here we document another possible mimic for isolated human skeletal elements – the proximal pedal phalanges of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) closely resemble the proximal and intermediate hand phalanges of adult humans. We detail morphological similarities and differences between these elements, with the goal of providing sufficient information for investigators to confidently falsify the hypothesis that a questioned phalanx is derived from an American alligator.
ABSOLUTELY. 100% yes. I’ve been wanting to write a song about Australopithecus. Let’s do this.
ME TOO PLEASE. Need a soprano?
We will have amazing harmonies. Xiphoidprocess is better at guitar than me so maybe I’ll play rhythm. I feel like we need a drummer drkrislynn
This has incredible potential.
Should I write cute marimba music for this or do you guys want me to completely make love to a drumset and shred the shit out of that double bass pedal?
McGill University has a departmental band made up of undergrads, graduate students and Dr. Andre Costopolous who is now the Dean of Students. The are a metal cover-band and they have the best name ever: Megalith
I always reblog Megalith. As an added bonus, here’s the poster I made to advertise their last show:
IT GOT EVEN BETTER
So apparently I wander off and write papers and stuff like THIS happens.
I’m actually serious. Next conference you’d better bring your instruments.
I love you all so much.