This exhibit is now closed.
The human skeleton is an adaptable and remarkable structure that sustains us everyday. Without it, we cannot survive. Our bones are our foundation; they create blood cells, allow our bodies to move, and store nutrients and minerals. They are also susceptible to disease, adapt remarkably well to forced cultural modifications, and manifest unusual, but naturally occurring, abnormalities. The unique role of bones in the body can inform scientists about a person’s life long after that individual passes away.
In the new exhibit, Strange Bones: Curiosities of the Human Skeleton, curator Tori Randall focuses on the many different, strange, and curious things that happen to our skeletons throughout the course of our lives. Visitors can view specimens that evidence dwarfism, the fusion of fractured bones as the result of abnormal healing, the effects of diseases such as scurvy and syphilis, and culturally motivated modifications such as foot-binding and neck rings. For example, a female nicknamed “MOP woman” evidences the onset of Myositis Ossificans Progressiva (MOP), a hereditary disease that prevents movement because the connective tissues, such as liga- ments and tendons, become as dense and rigid as the bones themselves. Another fascinating example from Peru: an elongated skull resulted from tightly wrapping the head as the infant’s skull solidified to underscore the individual’s elite status.
From the sometimes surprising cultural modifications humans impose on their own bodies to the natural existence of extra digits and even the sometimes gruesome effects of disfiguring diseases, visitors will no doubt enjoy seeing firsthand and learning about such Strange Bones.
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