It’s mid-December, and we’re fast approaching that magical time of year when we’re tasked with finding the perfect gifts for friends and loved ones: Kazakhstan Independence Day.
Seeing as Christmas is only a week away, I figured I’d provide some guidance for anyone searching out the perfect gift to surprise the osteologist in their life. Without further ado, ten resplendent items that are guaranteed to delight anyone who spends most of their year sifting through fragments of human bone.
1) Bone Clones Magnetic Hand or Foot
Some of my bioarchaeology comrades who have been lab directors at the Kampsville
Bioarchaeology and Human Osteology fieldschool got a pair of these for teaching a year or two back. They tell me that (a) the magnetic hands and feet are great fun to play with, and (b) provide a fantastic way to learn the precise articulations for all of the facets on the carpals and tarsals.
Link: Can be purchased at Bone Clones, here.
Price: $209 for a single hand or foot
2) Lumbar Vertebra Mug
Most osteologists, nay, most academics, are fueled by some form of caffeine. To that end, why not get your bone-obsessed friend an appropriate receptacle for their morning libations?
Link: Can be purchased through Wolters Kluwer Health, here.
3) Netter Anatomy Flashcards and Coloring Books
A must-have for any unfortunate soul saddled with the burden of a Gross Anatomy course. The flashcards are particularly useful as they ensure that you won’t have to lug the full Netter manual around with you all the time. The coloring books are also great – I recall scoffing at the idea when I took anatomy, and then being forced to draw insanely complicated and sloppy outlines of the brachial plexus, or whatever it was we were learning that week, before coloring in the various segments of my own questionable sketch. If you want to be a particularly impressive gift-giver, buy a set of colored pencils and a pencil case to go along with these.
Link: Both can be found on Amazon – the coloring book is here, and the flashcards are here.
Price: $17.68 for the coloring book, $15.88 for a used 3rd edition of the flashcards (I bought mine used and they were fine).
4) Skeleton Typogram Print
Aaron Kuehn has crafted a badass typogram of the human skeleton, complete with appropriate nomenclature. One of my labmates loved this so much that she printed out a copy and taped it to the wall beside her desk. To class things up a bit, I’d recommend buying an actual print from the talented artist and getting it framed.
Link: Can be purchased through Aaron Kuehn’s website, here.
Price: $50 for the official print.
5) Real Animal Skull
Most osteologists enjoy a slightly morbid tinge to their home decor. To that end, assuming you don’t want to find some roadkill and macerate it yourself, I would suggest perusing the selection at Skulls Unlimited. The company has a wide range of animal skulls available, so you can choose whichever animal you feel most suits your friend or loved one, be it an oppossum, pine marten, or straw-colored fruit bat. They have a series of holiday deals going on right now, many of which are in the $30-40 range, so I would recommend taking a look if you’re strapped for gift ideas.
Link: Skulls Unlimited Holiday Specials, here.
Price: Varies by species.
6) Molar Necklace
This necklace was created when a fan of the jeweller’s work mailed him her actual wisdom teeth…from Australia. According to the necklace description, the resultant cast is of a lower third molar. The perfect gift for anyone who spends a lot of their time looking at teeth. Or maybe not. Maybe get them #7 instead – they’re probably sick of teeth.
Link: Can be found on Etsy, here.
Price: $40 for white bronze, $60 for the blackened version.
7) Chalkboard cranium
A perfect way for your resident osteonerd to leave notes at the lab – “out to lunch”, “screening for teeth”, “busy measuring femora”, etc., etc. These come in a variety of colors (including gold), and a range of species like Homo sapiens, Australopithecus aethiopicus and Gorilla gorilla, for the primatology enthusiasts out there.
Link: Can be found on Etsy at iamhome, here.
Price: $34-66 depending on species.
8) Bone pen or keychain
Over the years I’ve bought my labmates both this pelvis keychain and this vertebral column pen, depending on their particular research focus. A fun way to say “Hey, I do occasionally listen to all that yammering on you do about bones. Please stop talking my ear off and jot down some of your observations about the etiology of porotic hyperostosis in your diary, instead.”
Link: Pelvis keychain can be found on Amazon, here. Vertebral column pen also available on Amazon, here.
Price: $8.25 for the keychain, $6.99 for the pen.
9) Death: A self-portrait
In the winter of 2012 I visited the Wellcome Collection in London to see their exhibition “Death: A self-portrait“. While there I snapped up this beautiful book of artwork derived from the works exhibited at the museum. The book showcases a range of different media – including woodcarvings, paintings and contemporary photographs – all underscoring the many faces of the human relationship with death. It’s equal parts morbid and beautiful.
Link: The Wellcome order link appears to be broken, but the book can be ordered on Amazon, here.
10) A portable camera tripod
While this may seem like an odd gift, every osteologist needs to photographically document specimens at some point or another. Gorillapods pack down light and are flexible even when photo settings are not. An added bonus is that they can also be used during extra-osteological travel.
Link: Gorillapod website found here.
Price:$19.95 for one of the original models.
Good luck shopping! Anyone else have any other gifts that they’d recommend for osteologists? Any osteologists received particularly thoughtful or surprisingly useful gifts?
Image Credits: Photo of Kazakhstan Independence Day parade found at Central Asia Online, here. All other images taken from the associated and linked websites.