So have a nice chilled out Christmas break I’m back at the college looking at more interesting specimens. As this is my forst week back, including my job at Reading University, I am still getting adjusted with actually having to work as having two weeks off at Christmas was great but as I did very little it’s taken me a few days to get back into the swing of things.
This week at the college I had quite a few skulls again with similar conditions to those I’ve examined in the last few weeks. However, I also had two partial skeletons and one complete skeleton. All three specimens had the same condition of iniencephaly, which I discussed in week 33. This condition is a result of a neural tube defect and therefore causes poor development of the skull, vertebrae and ribs. The two partial skeletons that I had only included these elements in addition to the pelvis so it was really interesting to compare them to a complete skeleton with the condition. It was clear to see that all of the other bones had developed as normal, although the scapulas were displaced as a result of the curvature of the spine. It was an extremely delicate but facinating specimen and I very much enjoyed working with it.
In addition to my work with the bones I was also shown a 3D-printed model of an infants skull. The conservation team had recieved some funding to help produce teaching models for the surgeons who use the Wellcome Museum of Anatomy and Pathology. One of the lecterures had requested to get an infant skull that they could handle as it would be very useful for teaching purposes. It was possible to provide them with real infant skulls as they are so delicate and easily damaged and therefore the idea came to try 3D printing. The model that was produced was amazing and fairly detailed – however, there was a slight problem with it being far too small. It means that it can’t be used for teaching as it is not accurate but it does give hope that this method could be used in the future.