Human Osteology

Human Osteology - Timothy D. White Why would a fiction writer and reader write a post about a book on osteology? Two words: Reference, inspiration.

As an undergraduate at BYU, I took a Human Osteology class from Dr. Dale Berge, a wonderful man who fanned my flame for academic curiosity. I'll never forget the final for the class. We had to identify, sex and age around 120 random bones, as well as noting and explaining the source of any unusual ulcerations, scoring, arrow wounds (yes, you read that right), etc. One of the more difficult and rewarding tests I've taken. Dr. Berge threw us all for a loop by including a bone that looked *sort of* like a human pelvis, maybe an infant pelvis, but . . . not quite. It wasn't until none of us could figure out what it was that he revealed that it was a whale vertebrae. Now, if I ever encounter a whale vertebrae on the beach, I'll be able to identify it. It's good to have skills . . .

So I use this book as my bible of bones. It is a fantastic reference, with hundreds of black and white photographs, carefully diagrammed, and some text that helps explain some of the features. If you want to know bones, get this book.

It's also served as inspiration, specifically for my story "The Bones of Ndundi," which appeared in Notre Dame Review and which is reprinted in my collection Fossiloctopus. Human Osteology has also spurred other fictions, though none so directly as this.

In any case, it's good to know your bones.