Illustration of the spinal column and surrounding circulation.
From the Atlas of Human Anatomy and Surgery, 2005.
Curious Fact of the Week: How to Make a Bone Chandelier
The unsettling celebrated Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic is best known as the “Bone Church” — and with good reason. It’s estimated the bleached bones of between 40,000 and 70,000 dearly departed souls grace the walls. However, in all the skull garlands and charming touches like a bone bird plucking at a gaping eye socket, the centerpiece is without a doubt the chandelier.
It can be hard to make out in the ornate jumble, but there’s at least one of every bone in the human body in the chandelier. It’s arguably the masterpiece of the macabrely eccentric Frantisek Rint, a woodcarver who approached the ordering of the thousands of bones in 1870 as an artistic task. Perhaps surprisingly to everyone but Rint, the ossuary has become quite the tourist destination.
Why are there so many dead people in this one small space? Story goes that back in the 13th century, the Sedlec Monastery Abbot brought back some earth from the Holy Land. Unfortunately, he didn’t carry much, so the spare land where he sprinkled the dirt became quite crowded with people who wanted to rest eternally in its gritty grace. So the ossuary was the result, where everyone in a way could be close.
As for the chandelier, once you know that a whole anatomy is up there details like femurs and jawbones start to emerge. The crowning touch is the ring of skulls topped with candles, which are illuminated each year on All Soul’s Day.
“What happens when you unleash an acclaimed luxury goods photographer on hundreds of anatomical animal skeletons kept in museum collections?
If that photographer is Patrick Gries and the skeletons are those of Paris’ Natural Museum of History, you’ll get a series of 300 stark photographs that transform staid, ordinary scientific specimens into biological art.
Gries shot these images to accompany text by oceanographer and documentarian Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu in the book Evolution, published by Xavier Barral, and they were recently featured in the Photovisa festival in Krasnodar, Russia.
“If you go to the museum, you’ll see thousands of skeletons,” Gries says. “My job was to take one specimen, isolate it, and work with light to photograph that specimen as if it was a sculpture.” De Panafieu’s essays tell the story of evolution piece by piece—with chapters on adaptation, convergence, homology and other broad themes—while Gries’ striking photos isolate the essence of each animal’s unique adaptations.
Simultaneously, though, the photos highlight the common anatomical characteristics shared by all vertebrates. Stripped of fur and flesh, it can be hard to identify the skeletons without a label: without ears, a rabbit doesn’t look all that different than a cheetah, and a monkey’s skull differs only in scale from a human’s” (read more)
(Source: Smithsonian AMNH)
An entire Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) in a box in Anna’s lab, awaiting cataloging.
first listens | (2/1000) bones, MS MR
Dig up her bones but leave her soul alone. Lost in the pages of self-made cages, life slips away and the ghosts come to play.
Watercolor pencil and graphite
MS MR | Bones
dig up her bones
but leave the soul alone
let her find a way
to a better place
broken dreams and silent screams
empty churches with soulless curses
we found a way
to escape the day
Cryolophosaurus (by Jeff Kubina)
Huge nest of baby dinosaurs found in Mongolia
Fifteen juvenile Protoceratops andrewsi dinosaurs have been discovered at an archaeological dig in Mongolia. The dinosaurs are a species related to the triceratops, and adults grow to about 2 meters long and around 400 pounds. As you can imagine, scientists have been able to infer a lot of observations from this find. For example, the find hints that the dinosaurs lived in a herd and received parental care, as the juveniles are each around 1 year old yet apparently remained together in the same nest. All of the dinosaurs were found facing the same way, leading the archaeologists to believe that they died in a sand storm.
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