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  • Susan Elaine Jones

Bird Skeletons of the world

Skeletons. So often a labour of love. But two years of work at the University of Cambridge Zoology Museum is finally ready to share (and still isn't quite finished). Volunteers (lately down to just me and Geoff) have been photographing the bird skeleton collection from all angles (using my kit as it's a bit better than the university point-and-shoot) as part of condition reporting and checking what needs cleaning, mending or which toes have been knocked off. Then home and editing the images to correct colour, add scale and remove identifying features (location markers in the stores etc). And finally, organise the skeletons into the best understanding of the bird evolutionary groups - some of which have been completely rewritten by molecular data analysis.

Some hints of this work have crept out before. For example, wondering if the penguin skeleton was missing its kneecaps, or if penguins don't have kneecaps at all. Blog post here.

And that the flying flightless ratites - otherwise known as how did emus, ostriches, rheas and moas get where they all are? Blog post here.

(Adding blog post links as Wix seems to have f**ked up the search engine for my blog posts so you can't easily find anything anymore.)

But anyway, if you ever wondered what was under the skin of a chicken (I'm vegetarian, it was all new to me), or wanted to compare the skeleton of a moa to a T. Rex, or just fancied drawing a Hoatzin... they're all there for your pleasure!

And of course, being skeletons, the do love to pose awkwardly! So there are prizes if you write after spotting the one legged sea eagle, the depressed penguin, the furry head of a tooth-billed pigeon, the amazing balancing ornate lorikeet and the cheeky grin of the thick-billed murre!

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