Home » What I've been up to » Week 12 Volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons

Week 12 Volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons

Outside of the Royal College of Surgeons. Image taken from http://nobelbiocare-eyearcourse.com/fgdp.html.

Outside of the Royal College of Surgeons. Image taken from http://nobelbiocare-eyearcourse.com/fgdp.html.

Summer is finally here! It’s a beautiful day and I really enjoyed my walk in London today – London does look good in the sunshine, especially as you’re crossing the river. I also can’t believe that it’s my 12th week volunteering. It’s gone so quickly and my confidence has grown so much, even though I was tested a little but this week!

Most of today was spent looking through boxes which had been marked for cremation. My job was to pull out any of the bones which looked they might be suitable for teaching. I ended up taking out quite a few bones as they only had a small amount of damage to them.

After these boxes I moved on to a very small plastic box with just a few bones in. These bones ended belonging to one temporal bone which had been sectioned (sliced) so you could see the internal structures. I’ve seen this technique before in long bones and it’s really nice to be able to see the internal architecture. The nice thing with this temporal bone was that it revealed the ear canal. I think it’s easy to forget some of the more intricate features for our anatomy but being able to see the ear canal made me stop, think and smile. It’s a beautiful little structure which coils round and reminded me of a small snail shell. It’s amazing that such a small part of our skulls, along with three other tiny bones and some soft tissue, that the ability to hear is achieved.

The final part of my day was spent looking at teeth. I haven’t looked at teeth, in depth, for quite a while. However, I wanted to give it the best go I had and armed with three books (Hillson, White and Schwartz) I attempted to sort some teeth. I could identify the tooth type with very few issues, although there were some which were very damaged or fragmented. The difficulty came with identifying the location of the tooth i.e. whether it was an upper or lower tooth and then which number, e.g. first or second premolars. I managed to do a few and hopefully when I’ve spent more time with I’ll become much better. Next week I plan to build on today and get to grips a bit more with teeth. Until then I need to go and gather as much information on siding and identifying teeth as possible.

If you’re wondering which books I used here are the full references:
– Simon Hillson. (1996) Dental Anthropology. Cambridge University Press.
– Jeffery Schwartz. (1995) Skeleton Keys. Oxford University Press
– Tim White (1999). Human Osteology Academic Press

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