In focus: Investigating the Biomechanics of the Tadpole from Hell

by Eva Herbst, Structure & Motion Lab, The Royal Veterinary College, UK. If you would like to contribute a guest post, please get in touch, such as on Twitter or Facebook. Fig. 1 Reconstruction of Crassigyrinus scoticus (Panchen & Smithson 1990) My name is Eva Herbst and I started my PhD with John Hutchinson and co-supervisor…

In focus: How much do turtles wiggle their hips?

by Christopher Mayerl, Evolutionary Morphology and Biomechanics Laboratory at Clemson University (S. Carolina, USA). If you would like to contribute a guest post, please get in touch, such as on Twitter or Facebook. When you see a turtle, you automatically know it’s a turtle and not something else, probably because of its distinctive shell. However, there’s…

In focus: The big picture of little bones in tuatara

By Sophie Regnault with John Hutchinson and Marc Jones Sesamoid bones are specialised, typically small, bones found in tendons near to joints, with several unusual characteristics. We’ve covered them here before. These sesamoids tend to alter the mechanics of joints, and their development also seems highly influenced by movement. They can vary between individuals or…

In focus: The mysterious extra ‘digits’ of pandas, moles and elephants

The biological ‘five finger rule’ is strikingly consistent throughout living tetrapod vertebrates. Humans and other primates, most carnivorous mammals, crocodiles, lizards and tortoises all typically possess the five digits (fingers and toes) characteristic of tetrapod limbs. It wasn’t always so – the ancient ancestors of the first vertebrates to walk on land, such as Ichthyostega and Acanthostega, had up to…

#ThrowbackThursday individual bone cells from ‘Lucy’ tell the story of her growth

This rather abstract-looking image shows a tiny patch (around 110 micrometres across) of an ancient hominid femur. ‘Lucy’ is one of the the oldest and probably the most famous early human-like primate, belonging to the species Australopithecus afarensis. She lived around 3.2 million years ago in sub-Saharan Africa, and her remains were discovered in 1974 in Ethiopia….

Platypus x-rays show shadows of its “reptilian” ancestry

Platypuses belong to an ancient group of mammals, the monotremes. Today, these are the only living mammalian species to lay eggs, and the group also includes echidnas. But, as the x-rays of Dr Larry Vogelnest show, the platypus retains several skeletal features which link it to its distant ancestors (often called reptiles, but more technically referred…

Photographer captures turtle skeleton and discovers a clutch of eggs

Ted Kinsman, professor of photographic sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology, found this unfortunate expired snapping turtle at the roadside and made it the subject of his next project. What he didn’t expect was to discover a clutch of eggs within, revealed by X-ray. Turtles may have carry up to 30 fertilised eggs from…

Stunning X-ray still life images show skeletal adaptations in life poses

Seeing the skeleton in action can give viewers a very different perspective on adaptation and evolution, and most museums endeavour to pose their exhibits in real life position. This can be tricky, reassembling the bones and trying to give a realistic impression of total body shape and size beyond the skeleton itself. These images, from…

Scans show mummified Egyptian falcon’s last meal

Archaeologists are now using anatomical technology to look into Egypt’s past. Scanning techniques such as X-ray and CT allow researchers to examine mummified specimens without having to unwrap them, which can be destructive. And it’s not just human mummies which are the subject of interest – countless animals were often mummified and entombed alongside important…

Spine flexibility helps cheetahs reach top speeds

Cheetahs are the ultimate sprinters among large land animals, reaching bursts of up to about 110 kph (~68mph) and unbeaten as the fastest living runner on the planet. This beautifully re-articulated skeleton reveals some of the ways they are able to reach such superhuman speeds. The sigmoidal curve of the spine visible in this image allows the front and…