Home » Musuem » Week 15 Volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons

Week 15 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.

A slightly greyer and cooler day yesterday – a good insight into the British weather! One week it’s gorgeous sunshine the next it’s grey and threatening to rain! Never mind, what ever the weather I always enjoy my Thursdays.

This week I wasn’t in my own but had another volunteering working with me. It was quite nice to have some company although I must admit it took a little time to readjust to not working on my own again! This volunteer currently works on odd days doing cataloging, filing and sorting some of the museum’s collections and usually with bones. As he was new to the project I am working on I had to explain the system and process of creating and inventory of the bones. I think it went well and he understood what I was doing!

This week we had a few boxes of ribs, articulated torsos and articulated arms. The ribs were mainly individual bones hat just needed to be counted. However there were a few ribs which showed signs of pathology. These mainly included healed fractures which were usually situated mid shaft or towards the sternal end. All of these had healed nicely with no obvious signs of causing prolonged discomfort. There was one, or should I say 2, ribs that were particularly interesting. The first two ribs in this individual had fused together. I’m not sure how this is achieved but it was quite something to look at. It basically looked as if it was one big first rib that possessed two heads! Very odd indeed.

As I said we also had a few articulated torsos which predominately including the vertebrae, scapulars, sternum and clavicles. A couple also had the sacrum and pelvis attached which was good. To be honest these bones weren’t particularly unique or interesting, however they could potentially be very useful teaching tools.

Finally we had the articulated arms. Most of these included a complete hand which, again, makes a good teaching tool. We found a couple cases of osteoarthritis in the thumb joints but other than that the bones were very ordinary.

It might be easy to think that it can get boring or tedious when you are presented with the same element over and over again. However, I like seeing a lot of ‘normal’ bones together as it allows you to observe the extent of natural variation that exists. Whilst at university there is a limited number of bones available to study and a number of students attempting to look at the same thing. This project has let examine so many bones that I can appreciate the amount of variation that is present in bones. I’m not just talking about size or sex differences either. Obviously people are of different heights and there can be a marked difference in the bones between the sexes but even so the size and shape of bones are different from one individual to the next. I recommend to anybody who wants to become an osteologist to try and examine as many different skeletons and bones as possible to get a greater understanding of what is pathological or unusual and what is just natural variation.

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