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Class Notes: Human Osteology

Monday: January 9, 2012

Week 15: Taphonomy


Since we covered taph the week before, this week was actually centered on case studies and final review. The case studies came directly out of our textbook Human Osteology, so I won’t go into detail here (see the Library page for more information). What we got out of the individual cases was that taphonomy was highly important in a forensic case involving burned bones. The key to bioarchaeology is understanding issues like osteoarthritis at a population level. Only and entire suite of patterns can indicate cannibalism. The oldest known cemetery likely belonged to Homo heidelbergensis, 200,000 years ago (and man oh man, what a crazy complex dig that must be! Google Sima de los Huesos, you shan’t be sorry.)


Dr. S set up more stations, mostly involving paleopathology and taphonomy again. I spent a good portion of class (and later much of the entire day) with the bones I failed the most on: frags of the sphenoid, metatarsals and metacarpals, and long bone shafts.


Our skeletal reports were due, and my ex situ commingled stuff was just nearly finished (which was ok since I had already completed the baby). I spent much of the entire day again studying. I was grateful this week that so many undergrads were in the lab. They kept me alive by feeding me with their swipes and entertaining my brain before I got burnt out. Was I ready for the final? No way. Lefts and rights. Rights and lefts. Siding was not my friend, but what more could I do?

Since this post is delayed, I do happen to know my score. It was not what I wanted. It was a high B. What kind of osteologist am I to become?? I was pretty down and out about it. (As my advisor well knows, I think of an A as passing, a B as barely worth it, and a C as failure – this is grad school, yo!) But as all my scores came in, between the tests, quizzes, and skelly projects, I rounded out with an A after all. Phew.

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2 remarks!

  1. Good for you. I knew you could it. Got the A!
    Please don’t embarrase me with a ‘B’.
    I know you won’t…so keep going.

  2. No pressure! ;)

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