Osteology Everywhere: Downing Street Edition

I’m currently in the US, visiting friends for about a week after attending the American Anthropological Society meetings in Washington DC. It’s been a difficult return trip, as I now find myself beset by sunlight until exceedingly late in the evening – 4:30, 5:00, sometimes even 5:30 PM – in contrast to the soothing, pitch-black darkness that descends on southern England like clockwork at 3:30 PM.


Each time I take a trans-Atlantic trip, the two-day period before departure is noteworthy for being a particular relaxed and well-organized time.


JUST KIDDING. Instead, it’s a two-day slog that finds me furiously packing, making to-do lists, and fretting about whatever important item I will realize that I have forgotten while boarding my first plane.

Last week, I was in the midst of a typically last-minute foray outside the McDonald Institute to shop for gifts when I noticed an unusual street cover on the pavement along Downing Street.


At first glance, the pattern reminded me strongly of subadult long bone diaphyses, the central shaft portion of the bone that fuses to the outerlying epiphyses as the skeleton grows and develops. Take a look at these tibial diaphyses photographed by Pieter Folkens,

these casts of long bone diaphyses from France Casting,
or the diaphyses visible in this articulated partial subadult skeleton from the Museum of London.

See it now? I think the main reason I found the pattern so visually evocative was because of the flaring proximal and distal ends of each piece.

A good reminder that even when I’m trying to focus on other things, there is osteology everywhere!

Image Credits: Fokens’ tibial series via allthingsAAFS, here. France Casting subadult bones found here. Subadult bones from Museum of London found here.

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