Friday, October 26, 2007

Dem Bones, Dem Bones


I just spent a couple of fascinating hours perusing the website of Skulls Unlimited of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Internationally recognized purveyors of museum quality skulls and skeletons, both articulated and disarticulated, the good folks at Skulls Unlimited have recently built a Museum of Osteology, which will house 5,000 specimens representing over 2,500 vertebrate species, including both fossil humanoids and modern humans, when it opens to the public.

You may have seen their operation showcased on the Discovery Channel's "Young Scientist's Challenge" or a particularly gnarly episode of Mike Rowe's "Dirty Jobs" back in 2005, where Mike was introduced to the tasks of brain demising and carcass flensing.

Cleaning skeletons may, indeed, be a dirty job, but someone's got to do it, and the folks at Skulls Unlimited do a whiz-bang job of it. Founder and President, Jay Villemarette, started out cleaning skulls in his kitchen with the aid of what must be a very understanding wife. Today the company employs masters in the crafts of skeleton cleaning and articulation.

Skulls, Unlimited appeals to me on many levels. I've always been fascinated by anatomy and physiology, and I like to know how things work. I'm a sucker for museums and factory tours. The fact that I'm a living thing and my house is full of other living things, large and small, makes me all the more interested in knowing how we're constructed and how we function. An intimate understanding of the inner workings of living things is sort of the ultimate factory tour.

It's a fascination best summed up by this quote from the website:

"In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." Baba Dioum

Skulls, Unlimited appeals to me on many levels. I've always been fascinated by anatomy and physiology, and I like to know how things work. I'm a sucker for museums and factory tours. The fact that I'm a living thing and my house is full of other living things, large and small, makes me all the more interested in knowing how we're constructed and how we function. An intimate understanding of the inner workings of living things is sort of the ultimate factory tour.

It's a fascination best summed up by this quote from the website:

"In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." Baba DioumIf

If I had my life to do over again I'd be a museum curator. Barring that, I'd like to have a private collection of weird scientific gadgets and anatomical artifacts. Skulls Unlimited sells a lovely (and reasonably priced) Economy Skull Bag that includes several specimens from the fur-bearing and feathered species. For a mere $89, plus shipping and handling, they'll send you the skulls of a raccoon, a fox or coyote, a bobcat or lynx, a rabbit, a squirrel or muskrat, a badger or otter, and either a duck, turkey or pheasant -- whatever they have in stock. For about $300 you can purchase a complete, ready-to-assemble cat skeleton, which would make a terrific Christmas gift for people who like puzzles. Hint, hint.

Kwach

5 comments:

CEDARFLAME said...

My family liked to hunt. Every house in our neighborhood seemed to have something dead and stuffed hanging on the wall, our house was no exception.

One of my cousins took this little hunting and trophy gathering, what I thought at the time, a gruesome step further. He collected animal skeletons, especially the skulls.

He use to keep his little collection in the garage nice displayed on shelves. He use to place dried flowers in the eye sockets, and decorate them for holidays.

My father thought it was really strange, but I guess it is no stranger than living in a house with 5 deer heads in the family room staring at you while you watched TV.

Kwach said...

Oddly, I like skulls and skeletons, but not taxidermied critters. There's a beautiful, majestic moose head hanging in the employee stairwell at our main office and you have to pass it four times a day to get to the time clock. It just makes me sad.

My cousin is a hunter and has lots and lots of taxidermied animals in his house. Most of them are the obligatory deer and antelope heads, a couple of bighorn sheep, etc. But a few years ago he shot a black bear and a mountain lion on his property and had them both mounted whole. The bear is standing on his hind legs and the mountain lion is posed on a large slab of rock in a predatory pose. Dogs hit the floor and whine when they go in his house.

Skeletons are far enough removed from the live creature that I don't really picture them fluffy and alive.

Anonymous said...

I was linked to your blog and was told to go back as far as it would let me. I was entranced. My name's Kendall and I have been with my partner for going on ten years. We have two kids and it was nice reading your blog about being in a normal relationship and raising kids. My e-mail is outloudfeminist@yahoo.com. I would love to get to know y'all better.

Suzanne said...

I love this kind of stuff, too.

Ev said...

Hi Kendall!

I love it when we get new people, although now I feel a little extra pressure to actually be interesting. :-(