Sunday, 2 March 2014

Bare Bones ...

Now if you were given a mole hand by your mole catcher grandfather at age three would you have turned into a master skeleton builder?

North American mole

... this is how I came across Ben Garrod, who puts together skeletons, originally as a hobby, now as part of his work and studies.

As a child he got totally hooked, evidenced by bringing home a dead seagull and dissecting it on the kitchen table to find how the bits worked, and what was inside ...

Examples of Pentadactyl Limbs
... so his life took its course to studying evolutionary biology, and continued on with his hobby of building skeletons for museums and organisations ...

I recently saw one of his six BBC 4 tv shows, called “Secrets of Bones”, about how vertebrates have adapted so successfully to life on earth ...

We see the worlds of the fastest creature on earth, the reptile with up to 500 vertebrae, how the common pattern of the Pentadactyl (five digit) limb became established during the late Devonian period, between 380 and 360 million years ago, how those five digits have evolved, and how some mammals appear to have six digits – yet do not.

Lengthened curved spine of the cheetah
I love how posts come about ... this ties in so well with my previous post on human migration and how we keep finding things out about our ancestral past ...

The cheetah’s spine is where it has evolved most ...  the long very flexible spine gives it balance, ensuring that it can twist and turn in an instant ...

... while the spine allows the legs to overlap, giving it a huge stride, sometimes seven metres, which then allows the cheetah to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds as it hunts ... no wonder it is one of the most successful cats.

A cheetah chasing my favourite
southern African mammal: a warthog
I recognised the Grant Museum from my visit there last year, here we see a snake skeleton ... whereby only the spine with its ribs is left, so now snakes can only move sideways in an “S” serpentine movement ...

The snake cannot twist which ensured no harm could come to the spinal column ... so as the number of vertebrae increased, up to 500 in some species, losing its limbs along the evolutionary path, it was able to take advantage of new habitats ...
Snake skeleton showing
spine with its ribs

... being able to creep and curl into small spaces, burrow into holes, slither up trees, glide through the air, and one snake can even jump ... but it cannot move like us.

Our Pentadactyl limbs – our hands and feet have adapted enabling us to be able to walk upright and be very dextrous ... while other animals have adapted to their landscape and conditions ...

Two Gibbons in an Oak Tree
Northern Song Dynasty, China
(960 - 1279) - painter by artist
of that period: Yi Yuanji
Gibbons’ arms have a ball and socket joint in their wrists allowing 80 degrees of movement so they can swing through the trees ...

... their middle digits are extremely long allowing them to cling on to the branches as they range through the canopy, while their extra long arm bones (one and half times the length of its own legs) can reach speeds of 35 mph through the canopy ...

The shape, size and weight affect how an animal moves – this is particularly reflected in the upper arm or upper leg bone ...

Heavy and stocky for the cow – as they need hefty bones to hold their body bulk, up to 500 kilograms ... our human bones are lighter ...

The Metacarpal no 3
is the long bone
above the foot
and hoof
Whereas other animals have evolved differently – a horse can reach speeds of over 40 mph ... they needed to evolve to escape predators and be fast and light on their feet ...

... their Pentadactyl bones have evolved ... digits 1 and 5 have disappeared, while digits 2 and 4 are fused into Metacarpal no 3: surprisingly this is that long thin leg bone leading to the specialised foot where the shock of landing is absorbed.

The mole’s humerus has broadened significantly ... to enable them to become super-powered burrowers ... their Pentadactyl hand limb has ‘grown’ an extra digit ...

... in fact it is a Sesamoid bone coming from the mole’s wrist ... in anatomy a Sesamoid is known as a bone embedded within a tendon (as in the knee - the patella within the quadriceps tendon) ...

The Sesamoid bone shown in blue,
in this photo of a Panda hand
The elephant has a sesamoid bone (sixth toe) in its foot ... as it became land based and needed that additional support for its ever increasing body size ...  as too does a Panda – as this photo shows ...

The mole with its extraordinary adaption highlights that evolution converges too ... the European mole is related to shrews and hedgehogs, whereas the Golden Mole found in southern Africa is related to the elephant and manatee (dugong) ... yet both have that broad humerus with the sesamoid digit.

Ben Garrod c/o Great Yarmouth Mercury
Thus I ‘met’ Ben Garrod who really opened up a new way of thinking about ‘dem bones’ .... and who creates skeletal dioramas ... a mixture of art and science ... continuing on the Victorian tradition of bare taxidermy ...

... who is totally passionate about his scientific craft and was bowled over by the paleontological gallery at the Natural History Museum Paris ... a huge array of animal skeletons ... lined up like the TerraCotta Army ...

Paleantology Gallery at the Natural History
Museum in Paris

It was wonderful to see how bones offer structure, support and strength, while having a much bigger story to tell us about evolution through the skeleton with its specialist forms ...

Roll on youngsters who are so curious about life form and how it all works ... and long may Mr Garrod go on to greater scientific presentations for us to have the pleasure of watching ...

BBC Spring Watch 2011 - where Ben Garrod came to the fore on the BBC

Ben Garrod's site:  Ben's Bones 

BBC 4 "Secrets of Bones" 

Grant Museum of Zoology, London - my blog post

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


  1. How exciting! I had to catch up with your previous posts, taking in as much as I could in one big swoop! This is such exciting information! Lucky you are close to those exhibits!

  2. We do catch some BBC shows, so will look for it, Hilary.

    We never know what experience we have in our early years which will prove to our advantage later on. Thanks for the information! Hope you're having a nice Sunday.

  3. I think it all depends on how much a child gets guidance from his elders about understanding nature and life itself. Sometimes, young children who are curious and bring tiny dead animals are yelled at by their teachers. I asked my husband about the reluctance of teachers to allow children to look inside a dead animal ( no matter how small it is). He thinks that teachers are probably afraid that the child's curiosity might lead to ruthless attitude towards animals. We disected frogs in pre university course, although we learned "book knowledge " only in tenth grade.

  4. I never noticed until now that a Gibons' arms were longer, but they are.

  5. That's one heck of a rib cage on that snake!

  6. Another fascinating post. And you're right it ties in to your earlier posts. I never realized the Gibbon's arms were that long. You always learn so much when visiting you.

  7. Must confess I've never been particularly interested in bones, but I found this information very absorbing. Didn't know about the 6th toe although I have heard of it in humans.

  8. It's a shame no one ever gave me a mole hand. I could have had quite the career.


  9. @ Rosaria - it is such a lot of information .. but am delighted you read through the posts .. and yes being near London has its advantages.

    @ DG - that's great ... I'm sure Ben Garrod will appear on your BBC screen at some stage ..

    You're right those early years of experiences do shine through later on .. Sunday wasn't as bad as the weather predicted, and today it's been sunshine and showers!

    @ Munir - we dissected a frog at school .. though as children we had lots of opportunities to try things: the only thing I did as a kid was to make 'manure burgers' for everyone to 'try'?! My trials with the earth didn't last very long ..

    I think probably most parents wouldn't know where to start when a child brought a dead animal or bird home .. very sad - I'd love to know more about the land .. but then as a child probably not. Book knowledge I did have ...

    @ Diane - it was so interesting learning how the different vertebrates had evolved ..

    @ Alex - that's not a very long one either .. great adaptations though ..

    @ Inger - it just sort of highlighted another aspect of how much animals, in this instance vertebrates, have evolved to find their niche in the world.

    @ Jo - I think I probably fall into your way of thinking .. but this programme brought the changes to my notice ... the 6th toe is an anomaly .. not a sesamoid bone. I gather the term is a Polydactyl (extra) finger/toe ...

    @ Janie - you may well have had a very different career ..

    But Ben's grandfather would have been so knowledgeable about his environment ... those men from the land held a wealth of knowledge ..

    Cheers to you all .. Hilary

  10. Bringing home a dead seagull to dissect would have made me a little nauseous but it obviously helped fuel a life long love and thirst for knowledge for Ben. Interesting facts, Hilary.

  11. It's interesting to see the differences, and similarities, between species. A bat's wing, seal's flipper and our own arms are very different, but a look at the bones shows they're adaptations of the same basic structure.

  12. He is an engineer at heart too! Taking things apart and putting them together to see how they work is how many engineers begin life, so this is the same kind of fascination. I'm afraid I have a personal horror of discussing anything to do with bones - so I would rather discuss lego :-). Even so, from an evolutionary and migration perspective, this is, as you say, fascinating!

  13. I think I'm glad my grandfather wasn't a mole catcher!

  14. thats cool...have to admit to a bit of a fascination with science and bones and such...will follow over and check it out...and thanks for popping in today...smiles.

  15. This is why nature fascinates me so so much. Love this. That snake skeleton is amazing.

  16. I managed to get a photo of a mole last year. But as it was trying to bury itself in deep dried grass it just looks like a black blob.
    For anyone interested in how animals, including us, have evolved I can recommend a book by Brian Swiftek called "Written in Stone" all about what we can learn from fossilised skeletons (bones in a different form).

  17. Fascinating post, Hilary.
    A yoga teacher used to say, "We are as young as our spine is."
    Yes, that's why I make sure I keep my spine flexible.
    Bones have so much to say.
    I also love the idea of combining art and science.

  18. What an interesting post, some of this I knew but much of it was completely knew to me. I wish my spine was a little more flexible, but with three fused vertebrae and a calcified disc I have no chance :-)

    Keep well and have a good week Diane

  19. One of the most nifty arrangements of bone that I saw was in a photograph showing a rearing horse (skeleton) with a man standing beside him, reaching up toward an invisible halter rope.

    The positions were identical, and it was one of the best illustrations of comparative anatomy that I have seen.

    Another splendidly fascinating offering, Hilary!

    Diana at About Myself By Myself

  20. Sounds (and looks!) interesting, Hilary. I think it is wonderful how Ben was hooked at such an early age, and to share the interest with family. I wish we lived a bit closer to a few museums. We did visit the Smithsonian when we lived closer to Washington D.C. when my children were younger. Would love to go back someday.

    As always, thanks so much, Hilary! Your posts are full of wonderful treasures. :)

  21. Barebones is the name of y picture book character. So I loved your title of this post. Haha.

    This is interesting stuff, Hil. We don't have any museums near us. There is one in Asheville. But I was disappointed when I went. I'd love to see this though.You have given me a lesson for school on Thursday. How many times have you done that now? At least three. xoxo

  22. Hilary, your post always fascinate me. Bones can be so intriguing.

  23. Bones are so full of stories, and you demonstrate this so well. The photo of the cheetah is spectacular. I had no idea the spine could stretch out so far. And the snake skeleton is pure beauty. Thank you Hilary, you bring history to life.

  24. @ Suzanne - what we do at our mother's side influences us so much - and Ben's parents obviously supported him.

    @ Patsy - exactly, that same basic structure for each species has efficiently evolved over the years ..

    @ Val - yes Ben definitely is an engineer and artist at heart .. it's strange our aversion to all things bodily, yet so many people are appalled at injuries etc .. just delighted there are some doctors who are happy to continue on operating and exploring our innards!

    @ Anne - well I don't remember this sort of thing at home - but rather wish I knew more about animals and the land ...

    @ Brian - good to see you .. and am delighted you've enjoyed this post ... the presentation was good too, which makes it easier to understand ...

    @ Keith - I agree, now as I'm (much!) older I appreciate this learning curve so much ...

    ... hearing that the snake spine didn't twist and thus couldn't damage the spinal chord, yet it's become a highly evolved reptile, resonated so much ... protecting its nerves yet being able to live just about anywhere ...

    @ Bob - those 'critters' are so elusive .. but good for you for trying - I saw one on top of the Hastings chalk cliffs .. it put its hands out, then disappeared ... maybe that's another cause of the huge cliff fall recently?

    Thanks for the book info re Brian Switek ... it does look interesting, but for now I'll just have to remember it here ... but it can be on my to buy list.

    @ Julia - very good advice from your yoga teacher, and good for you that you're practising what she preached to you.

    Ben's art and science over at his web pages is worth looking at .. and per Bob's comment above - bones do have lots to tell us ..

    @ Diane - I certainly hadn't realised a great deal of this information ... and I too wish I was more flexible - sorry about your vertebrae and disc .. not funny. Thanks re your wishes ..

    @ Diana - your example of a man besides a horse obviously made a great impression on you ...

    Science if it's presented well and gives us something tangible to think about can be so enlightening as to how we and other animals work (or can exist) ...

    @ Karen - it was such a good programme and really opened my eyes to how anatomically vertebrates had adapted so differently ...

    Then fascinating to find that as a kid this was how Ben got interested ..

    I am lucky I'm near London and really near most places to visit in the UK.

    @ Robyn - BareBones is an excellent title for one of your picture book characters .. and I can understand now why you were happy to read!

    I certainly appreciate that by living here we are very lucky to be able to visit so many cultural places ... oh great that you can use some of the info here for your home schooling on Thursday - just delighted to be of inspiration!

    @ Mason - glad you enjoyed it and thanks for coming by ..

    @ Juliet - there is so much information one can glean from bones and teeth ... I had to put the two cheetah pictures in to show the stretch of the spine, and then the legs overlapping as it runs ...

    That Grant Museum was a real eye opener .. I must go back!

    Thanks everyone .. so pleased you've enjoyed reading about 'dem bones' .. cheers and have a happy week, it's a lovely sunny morning down here .. Hilary

  25. Evolution fascinates me, but probably not when it's cut open on my kitchen table. Ben must have had a very understanding mother... or she was in the next room!

  26. Quite a story (Ben Garrod's as well as the evolution of bones)Interesting what will pique our interest as children and take us on to great adventures in later life isn't it? I bet we can all think of something that was the catalyst for what we do now don't you? :-)

  27. 0-60 fast is better than my car, lol!!

    Hurrah to curiosity and those who encourage it at any age, but most especially in our youth!

  28. Fascinating as usual, Hilary. I wonder was Ben would have made of Richard III's skeleton. Oh yes, and I think I would have gone into a complete flap if anyone had handed me a mole hand when I was a kid!

  29. Fascinating stuff, Hilary! I was absolutely enamored with moles when I was a young girl, which the rest of my family most definitely was NOT. But I was never inclined to "take one apart" to see what its bones or other body parts looked like. I just buried 'em when they died.

    But if someone gave me a mole hand? I would have thought it was very cool. (Still wouldn't have taken it apart, though.)

    Thanks for all the info.

  30. What an interesting guy and fascinating topic. I have to say I loved your opening question, Hilary. I knew as soon as I saw that in my feed I had to click and read and see where you were going with it! :)

  31. This was fascinating, Hilary. I love reading about the evolutionary path these species are on. Give me that cheetah spine any day. I'd love to run at warp speed. I'll be taking a look at Ben's site and at the BBC program. Thanks for the great information.

  32. It's amazing how evolution works to ensure the survivability of a species.

  33. Fascinating. I am a real animal lover, especially cheetahs. Terrific post.

  34. I admire Ben to actually take steps to find out about the anatomy of that gull to learn about the bones.

    I would have loved having him as a playmate when I was 5! I had the curiosity, but not the courage.

    Too much of a little girl!

  35. He sounds like an interesting fellow. I find it fascinating how a curiosity as a boy led to a career.

  36. @ Annalisa - I'm becoming more and more fascinated by what we're finding out about ourselves and flora and fauna. I guess they were a family of the earth and land - hence their mutual interest ..

    I might have been in the next room, but my mother would happily have joined in!

    @ Debbie - thanks .. I'm so glad you feel the same way. I have to say I can't think of something as a child that I'm now passionate about ... all things I guess. But if our parents let us follow through with our passions, then I'm sure many have followed in those footsteps ..

    @ Rosey - I forgot to put that bit in .. so you're the first person to spot it. I haven't tried racing my car to 60 mph - that was in my youth!

    Isn't it 'hurrah' to curiosity and all who encourage us to search more and understand more ..

    @ Ros - I'd love to know what he might make of Richard III's Skeleton .. I'm looking forward to coming up to the museum.

    I find the bone story fascinating and without journalism, the tv or radio I'd never have learnt so much as I've done in recent years.

    Many little girls would run away from yuggie things! Not all though .. I probably would have, but I was much more practical .. so dealt with mice, spiders etc, while my flat mates wouldn't touch them!

    @ Susan - how fabulous that you were one of the little girls who delighted in looking at creatures, especially moles, when you were little. I can understand your parents and siblings being somewhat horrified at your enamoration .. lovely that you gave them a good burial.

    It is just a lovely thought isn't it - that mole hand ... then as a tot being able to wander around showing relatives and friends one's treasure ...

    @ Julie - I was quite pleased with my opening line too ... amused me glad it did you ..

    I was totally bemused by this chap - I saw last night's programme on flying creatures (in the air, on the ground surprisingly, and in water - how their skeletons have adapted and coped with the differences)... I'm just glad you're all interested too.

    @ Lee - that's great .. I don't think the BBC programme will work overseas (certainly the present series) ... but at least you'll keep an eye open in the future.

    I had to look up 'warp speed' and am not sure I'm any the wiser now - except Star Trek has something to do with it .. so I guess it's fast!

    Give me a flexible spine and healthier joints .. my spring and summer project!

    @ Sherry - isn't it incredible what happens over the aeons ..

    @ JJ - good to see you .. so I'm delighted you appreciated the post - and cheetahs are just so beautiful ...

    @ Amy - how wonderful to see you! As a kid he was in the right place living by the coast ... oh I couldn't agree more give me a playmate with so much enthusiasm, as he obviously had as a kid ... I suspect I left dead birds where they were with squeamish thoughts.

    You as a girl explore other arenas - and that's great too ... I'm glad you're a girl who is blogging.

    @ Lady Lilith - Ben comes across in such a down to earth way .. and isn't it fun to see that his curiosity as a boy led on to his career ..

    Cheers to you and I'm so pleased you're interested ... thanks for all your lovely comments ..

    From a sunny spring morning here in Eastbourne, where the birds are singing away ... Hilary

  37. I would love to have a spine like the snake ! I would be perfect in my Yoga class !

  38. Over 40mph! Wow, that's rather amazing. Thanks for all this wonderful info, Hilary. Fascinating stuff. Wish I'd had classes like this in school.

  39. I'm always so impressed with those who embrace science and such at an early age. Wonderful display there.

  40. It's interesting to see how something that happens to you as a child can change your life in a positive way too. Too much is heard nowadays in a bad way. What a interesting life he has led. Another great posting, Hilary, Thank you.

  41. Hi Hilary,

    I am always fascinated by how you do manage to tie in one post to another. A natural flow and progression.

    I have been watching the "Secrets of Bones." Fascinating, just like your posts are.

    Thank you for this, Hilary.



  42. The cheetah fascinates me! Such speed! And now I have that song in my head... dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones...
    Great info as usual!
    And I need to check out your previous post...
    Writer In Transit

  43. That Ben Garrod story is fascinating, as his love of skeletons. Thanks again for a very informative post, Hilary.

  44. @ Gattina - that's good you're enjoying your yoga

    @ Joylene - the speeds some of these animals can reach always staggers me - no wonder they can hunt, or hang around up in the trees - thanks so much ..

    @ Lynn - like you I'd love to have a talent in that direction, still it's great to have one who can present so well and open it up for us non-scientific lot ...

    @ Paula - yes I agree if we can engage a child's attention they may well develop a lasting interest. Ben Garrod has had a number of fortunate and no doubt well deserved opportunities in life ...

    @ Gary - well not always .. the subjects are bizarre sometimes, but at least the postings are usually of the same ilk.

    Isn't that Series wonderful .. I saw this week's too - but missed the first one ... I guess I must go back and look ...

    Thanks for coming by though ...

    @ Michelle - yes sorry about the song 'dem bones' .. but I couldn't resist using it. I agree the cheetah is just beautiful as well as so evolved ... enjoy my previous posting ...

    Happy World Read Aloud Day - gosh is my train to London going to be full of people reading aloud! I must try and pay attention for this next year ..

    @ Denise - it was fun to tell of Ben's early life ... and his later life was quite extraordinary too - he made his own luck, as well as obviously being very good at what he does .. he is talented ..

    Thanks everyone .. it's lovely to see you all here .. cheers Hilary

  45. It's interesting how both elephants and pandas have six toes. Fascinating facts and photos that you really have to see to believe. This is also an important reminder about how we need to straighten, and strengthen our own bodies.


  46. Another very interesting snippets about ‘dem bones’.
    I missed the show, you have inspired me enough to go back and investigate.

  47. Hi Hilary,
    First of all thank you for your comment on my 'Gratitude' blog. I found it after putting my IWSG blog on and left a reply. My reply doesn't seem to be there anymore!

    I remember as a nine-year-old being sent by the teacher to collect cows' eyes. At that time he village butcher did the slaughtering and I felt quite upset at what I'd seen. Surprisingly, the dissecting gave me an interest in biology. The first time I saw a skeleton (aged 11) I was terrified, too. I'm a real wimp!

  48. I copied your link and the links you left in this post for my youngest daughter who is very interested in bones. I know she'll enjoy this post:~)

    It made me think of special TV show I saw on the Galápagos Islands. I can't remember what network did the special, but it focused on the evolution of both land and sea animals. It was so fascinating to see the evolutionary changes and adaptations made for survival.

    I've never understood the objections to the concept of evolution. Whatever you believe in, it is truly amazing to think this process goes on and on, allowing for survival and sometimes causing extinction, but always ensuring life has a chance to continue and thrive.

    Thanks for this wonderful post. Again, I also thank you for my daughter. She will enjoy it!

  49. Enjoyed reading your post. Came to know about many thing. Thanks for sharing.
    Happy week end!!

  50. Did you know Beatrice Potter used to bring skeletons of dead animals in the house so she could study them? I guess that is why her illustrations are so lovely....

  51. @ Julie - when we can see things .. it makes it easier to understand -I'm just so pleased there are scientists who are so curious!

    Your point about strengthening our core - is so important, especially as we teeter onwards!

    @ Friko - let me know what you think about the show .. I hope you enjoy it ...

    It certainly shows how much evolution has occurred in the few bones and animals he talks about ..

    @ Fanny - it was good to be reminded we all need to be grateful for our lives.

    Gosh - I'm glad I was never asked to go to the butcher's for cows' eyes .. but if it gave you that interest in biology what a great way to bring it out ..

    I saw a dead body in a London hospital when I was in my twenties - it was there for research .. I definitely wasn't that thrilled. I think if I'd had one on one explaining to me .. I'd have been happier, being a school group I didn't much enjoy ...

    @ Sara - gosh I do hope she enjoys checking them out - thank you and she'll be able to see the BBC ones as she's here in London.

    I think I saw something similar to your Galapagos Islands show, though I've seen those too ... but 'mine' was about the Caribbean and how some animals were present on the Caribbean Islands as well as the Galapagos, others isolated once the Americas had joined up .. I've wanted to see that tv programme again - but it never seems to appear ..

    We don't have so much controversy on evolution over here - and exactly how on earth would we be here .. if mammals et al hadn't changed and adapted.

    Thank goodness life can continue and thrive .. long may it last!

    Thanks so much - I'm just delighted you're all enjoying these ... have good weekends - Hilary

  52. Fabulous info! Did you see the pics of the snake devouring the alligator in Queensland? Didn't know the elephant and panda have a sixth toe . . . always learn something fascinating when I visit your blog. Unfortunately, in the States the Creationists are gaining ground and pushing evolution in the corner of text books and so on.

  53. Aren't skeletons the bomb? If no one ever put one together we wouldn't know what the past looked like.

    I wish I didn't have moles in my yard and will remedy it soon, but they are darn ugly cuteness.

  54. Hilary, yours is still one of the best blogs around! The mole is one strange looking creature. They're so ugly they're kind of cute.

  55. Sounds so exciting! What a life!

    Great post.


  56. I read out loud to my husband the bit about the cheetah's acceleration capacities. His response: 'Holy moley.' Thought that was funny. Since you opened with the mole. :)

  57. Very interesting stuff, Hilary, and I'm glad to see you make no "bones" about it :)

    I never knew that about the elephant or the panda. -locking it away for Trivial Pursuit-

    Take care!

  58. @ Weekend Windup - good to meet you and glad you enjoyed finding out a few things ..

    @ Sharon - I didn't know that Beatrice Potter used to do that - though I certainly knew she was a lady of the lands and loved her farm up in Westmorland (as that's how I knew the county name - now Cumbria). She was an amazing woman - and I should read more ..

    Her illustrations are so poignant and so true to form .. now I can see why, as you suggest ..

    @ Kittie - I did see one photo of that alligator being devoured by a snake - extraordinary too.

    What's stuck with me is the evolution of the escaped pythons in the Everglades - their 'innards' have changed very quickly and they breed and live much more successfully because of those adaptions ... I'm sure I saw the programme after the early 2000s ....

    I can't understand people being so one-sided in their views - so yes I'm aware of the creationists ... it's sad it's being pushed so much and thus side-lining evolution .. people will come to realise that the earth has had to evolve ... but we can still believe ...

    There's no need for fervour ...

    @ Stephen - thanks so much, I do appreciate your thought.

    That picture is a new one in Wiki - so I was glad to find it .. they are fun to look at though ...

    @ Nas - he's obviously very talented and very passionate ..

    @ Suze - how funny about your husband and his 'holey moley': so appropriate in the circumstances - but the cheetah can move like lightning almost ..

    @ Mark - no bones spared, but a great many missing .. still the series was/is six programmes .. but this particular one highlighted how much our skeletons had adapted to life on earth ..

    The so-called Sesamoid bone .. is an interesting addition in various animals isn't it ..

    Thanks everyone ... these snippets of info always fascinate me ... and sometimes pop up in University Challenge, or no doubt pub quizzes, that I don't do .. but Trivial Pursuit - now there's a new one ..

    Cheers and from a lovely sunny morning in Eastbourne .. have a peaceful Sunday - Hilary

  59. That snake spine photo is very cool. Amazing how we're all put together, isn't it?

  60. It must be so time consuming to put together the skeletal system from real or recreated bones. For a class project, I went to a website where I had to put a mouse skeletal system back together online. It took quite a while!

  61. I wonder if one of his literary heroes is Beatrice Potter. She did the same thing when she was a little girl. :)

  62. @ Milo - I loved visiting the Grant Museum of Zoology ... a tangled web of glass cages with masses of specimens and skeletons ... Now I know what I'm looking at - another visit will give me a better idea - the snake skeletons were quite amazing ..

    @ Theresa - I imagine it must be very painstaking, like the archaeologists who try to fit together skeletons from centuries ago ...

    What an interesting class project - that must have bemused a few of you: good for you finishing the puzzle and I'm glad the mouse was safely put back together!

    @ Sharon - I'm sure Beatrice Potter would have featured widely in his reading material ..

    It was interesting to learn that Beatrix Potter also dissected dead animals as a small girl back in the late 1860/70s ...

    Lovely to see and from another glorious sunny day in Eastbourne thanks so much for being here - Hilary