Forensic Facial Reconstruction & Fainting Goats

Forensic Facial Reconstruction

If you’ve ever seen the show Bones (or left the Discovery Channel on for more than 3 hours) you are familiar with Facial Reconstruction, the process of reconstructing facial features using only skeletal remains. Though it seems like an impossible task, trained scientists can determine the age, sex, and race of an individual by analyzing their skull. They can then consult a database of average tissue depths at various points on the skull according to those variables and place sculpting clay accordingly to shape the face. It is remarkable how accurate this can be considering that most skulls look pretty much the same to the untrained eye.

One of my favorite courses I took while getting my undergraduate degree was called “Facial Anatomy & Reconstruction”. We got to reconstruct a face using only the person’s skull and sculpting clay. Here are a few pictures of our finished face (Facial reconstruction by Bruce Kinley & myself).

We named him Lyle Kane (bonus points if you get that reference)

(more photos on Bruce’s Flickr)

Real Life Science Nerdist: Life Update

Huzzahs are in order! I have a new job! So don’t be surprised if my columns start to sound a little less treatment resistant cancer-y, and a little bit more orofacial bone marrow stromal stem cells-y (it’s ripe for parody).

The Fainting Goats

Get ready for some uncomfta-larious animal footage! These “Fainting Goats” suffer from Myotonia congenita, a genetic disorder that causes about 10 seconds of painless muscle stiffening when the goats are startled. In younger goats this makes the animal to fall over completely, but as the goat ages and adapts it turns into more of a stiff, wobble-y hop. I admit the falling over kind of makes me cringe, but the weird hopping is downright hilarious.

Not only are these goats adorable when they’re upright, but nature has also given them the gift of sudden, instantaneous and uncontrollable slapstick comedy. Shut up, I know it’s kind of cruel to laugh at…but COME ON. Set that shit to the Benny Hill theme and I DARE you not to laugh.

[via The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics]

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