This week I was in on Tuesday instead of Thursday because there were the volunteer Christmas drinks in the evening. It was really nice and interesting to meet some of the other volunteers as well as spending time with the museum staff outside of the normal hours. The director made a nice speech thanking all of the volunteers and I even received a box of chocolates from the curator of the Wellcome Museum of Anatomy and Pathology as a thank you, which I thought was very sweet!
My boxes of skulls took me a little longer to go through today as many of them were not articulated/glued together. This meant that I had to check which cranial elements were present and take a photograph of each one. Although this more of a lengthy process it definitely tested my knowledge of the developing skull. I have handled many adult skulls during my studies and time at the College but very few infant skulls. They are extremely delicate and fragile so I have to be very careful when handling the specimens.
These specimens also gave me a chance to see the tympanic ring which forms part of the temporal bone (see fig. 1). I also saw many deciduous teeth that had fallen out of one of the mandibles. I’ve seen many teeth in the jaw but very few then they have fallen out. They are amazingly small but it is still possible to identify which teeth are present because of their distinctive shape. However, the best thing that I saw was one of the ear bones which had been isolated. I have only ever seen pictures of the ear bones so it was amazing seeing this one from an infant specimen, the particular bone that was present in this specimen was the incus. There are three ear bones: the incus, malleus and the stapes. Their colloquial names are the anvil, hammer and stirrup due to their shape. These bones are so tiny that it is easy to see why few ear bones are recovered from archaeological digs. It is times like these that make me realise how fortunate I am with this position. I wonder if I’ll come across any more ear bones in the remaining boxes I have to go through!