Introduction to Human Osteology
Roberta Hall, Oregon State University
Kenneth Beals, Oregon State University
Georg Neumann, Indiana University
Gwyn Madden, Grand Valley State University
Pub Date: 2010
Publisher: Grand Valley State University
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This textbook covers all the general topics that are necessary for an introduction to human osteology, however each area is given glancing attention read more
This textbook covers all the general topics that are necessary for an introduction to human osteology, however each area is given glancing attention that leaves space for incorrect interpretation. Furthermore, there is neither a table of contents nor an index which makes the textbook rather useless for referencing information or finding anything quickly. I appreciate the use of lists such as the cranial articulations and landmarks on the skull, and would find it helpful to have illustrations as a way of cross-referencing the information on the lists. While the textbook attempts to at least mention all the major necessary areas of information such as how to identify particular bones, siding, non-metrics, etc, it does little more than just mention them. There are photos of bones, but without pointing out specific landmarks or areas useful for identification, one might have difficulty understanding what exactly they are referring to. This would be a difficult text for someone who uses visual references as a primary means of learning. Additionally, there is a complete lack of comprehensive discussion of topics such as population specificity, which can have a major impact on the correct identification of age, sex, stature, occupational markers, etc. As an introductory source, this type of information is important so students understand the factors that influence identification or archaeological data.
The content seems to be balanced and accurate with few typographical errors.
The content is generally up-to-date and the arrangement of the text would allow for easy additions, subtractions, or edits of material.
The prose is generally accessible but heavy on the jargon, which may make it a difficult source for someone new to the field of osteology. To be a truly useful introductory source, it would be helpful to have some sort of photo or illustration to accompany each of the described terms as a way of visualization what they are referencing.
The text is consistent throughout.
This text could be broken down into smaller reading sections or assignments; however, without a table of contents or index it is impossible to easily refer to the sections. Furthermore, the subheadings are not consistently formatted to be recognizable as such. For example, some are bold and underlined, some are just underlined, some are left-justified, and some are centered so it is not always clear which ones are denoted an entirely new section of the body versus just different parts of the same area of the body.
The general organization and structure of the information is fine. The problems arise as mentioned above with no reference points such as table of contents or index as well as not always being able to clearly identify what each subheading indicates.
There were no interface issues that I detected.
There is only one noticeable grammatical error that I found. Otherwise, grammar is fine.
The text contains a brief section on identifying biological affinity and otherwise sidesteps the issues of race and ethnicity.
The text covers all of the elements of the bony skeleton and the dentition, but varies in the comprehensiveness of its coverage. For some of the read more
The text covers all of the elements of the bony skeleton and the dentition, but varies in the comprehensiveness of its coverage. For some of the skeletal elements there are both photos and line drawings, but for others (like the dentition), there are only drawings. None of the photos or drawings are labeled with the features of the bone/tooth, which would make this a potentially difficult (or impossible) text to use for an introductory course. Additionally, the depth of the material covered varies a lot by skeletal element. For example, the bones of the skull and its features are defined, while the bones of the arms and legs are just represented by lists of features. Similarly, some sections provide notes on siding the element (the carpals/tarsals), while others do not. The text would also be made more comprehensive by photos or drawings of the variable non-metric traits listed, as well as visual aids for sexing the skull and pelvis, and by more information on histology/bone microarchitecture, development, and physiology. Lastly, the text would benefit from the addition of a table of contents, comprehensive glossary at the end of the text, and an index.
The content appears generally accurate, though some of the drawings and photos would benefit from more specific labeling of both element (i.e., which side it is from) and view. Additionally, a number of the line drawings would be enhanced by the addition of some artistic detail (shading, etc), which would make them more useful in terms of distinguishing particular bony features.
The content covered is relevant and the bones of the skeleton obviously have not changed since this text was first written. It would benefit greatly from some updated references (and greater depth), particularly in areas where work in physical anthropology has continued - determining age, sex, and ancestry (and the various problematic/historical issues contained therein).
The text is generally clearly written, but does not always provide definitions or context for some of the technical terms it uses. Adding the standard textbook "bold key terms and glossary" would help make this text more useful for introductory level osteology students. There are some places where the writing becomes less clear, for example, in the discussion about the parietals - saying that the "the arteries point superior and posterior" is clear to an osteologist, but for a novice what direction does "point" indicate? Another one of these clarity/context issues arises in the section on sex estimation of non-pelvic postcranial bones. The measurements of the humeral head are presented without units or an explanation of what the numbers given mean. The biggest clarity issue is the lack of labeled visuals (both for the features of the bones and for the sexing/aging methods).
The text needs some work in terms of the consistency of its structure/framework. A less minimal approach to section/subsection headings would help, as would the expansion of certain areas of coverage (e.g., the long bones of the limbs) to make them more consistent with other skeletal elements (like the carpals/tarsals). There are also some consistency issues in the details: use of the incorrect term "phalange" rather than phalanx for the singular of phalanges and not noting the alternate names for the greater and lesser multangular bones within the carpal descriptions, but putting them in the photo captions, are two of them.
The text would benefit from better headings and subheadings. Dividing the book into cranial and postcranial elements makes sense, though the postcranial section would be enhanced by an overview and some additional terminology (axial vs appendicular skeleton, etc). Taking the information on topics like sexing and aging from the sections on the skeletal elements that these estimations are performed on, and making them their own chapters might help the modularity of the text, particularly if an osteology course using this book has labs/exercises on sexing or aging the skeleton as a whole.
The topics in the text are arranged in a somewhat logical fashion (cranial vs postcranial bones), but the section on dentition is placed at the end of the book rather than with the cranial bones. This seems strange. Additionally, the dentition section lacks comprehensive siding/tooth location information and photographs of the dentition in the mouth. Another major organizational issue that needs to be addressed is the placement of photos/drawings relative to the text describing them. It seems like a much more logical arrangement to have the text describing an element and its features followed immediately by the drawings/photos of that element, rather than having them placed in a group at the end of a section. This is particularly an issue with the drawings of the disarticulated skull bones (which also need labels indicating which view of the element the drawing is intended to show). There was also some inconsistency in page numbering - some of the sections were numbered and some were not.
The text is free of significant interface issues, but lacks any tools, links, etc to make navigating through the sections easier.
While there were no grammar issues that impeded meaning, the text could use a more thorough proofreading, particularly in the sections on the skull and hands/feet.
There are two cultural relevance issues in this text. The first is the use of "man" to mean person/people or Homo sapiens, generally (e.g., "modern man," "fossil man," "the chin is an anatomical structure unique to man"). As many of the people studying physical anthropology now are women, this makes the text feel outdated (and unwelcoming). The second issue is the use of outdated/offensive terms for ancestry in both the estimating biological affinity section and in the estimating stature section. As there exists enough scholarship on the problematic relationship with "race" that physical anthropology has had to fill an entire course, it is obviously not possible to cover the entire topic in a chapter of an introductory textbook, but a more nuanced discussion of the topic (rather than waving it away) would bring this text up to date.
I cannot stress enough how much adding feature labels to the photos and drawings in this text would help. As it stands, there is no way to use this book as the sole text for the kind of introduction to osteology lab that I teach (which is heavy on fragment identification). Additionally, given the number of students that take this kind of class with the intent to go into forensics, dealing with the cultural relevance issues would make the text more potentially useful to them, as they will have to deal with estimating biological ancestry in a meaningful, sensitive, and current way.
This text is not particularly comprehensive with respect to inclusion of a table of contents, index, or glossary (all are missing), but it does a read more
This text is not particularly comprehensive with respect to inclusion of a table of contents, index, or glossary (all are missing), but it does a better job of covering the material in a reasonably comprehensive manner. In separate chapters scattered throughout the text there are lists of features and terminology that are essential to the student of osteology. The major topic that could have been covered in a more comprehensive fashion is bone development and physiology: there are no images and no discussion of the development of endochondral or membranous bone, bone microstructure is provided lip service (6.5 lines of text and no images), and the relationship between muscular attachments and the prominent features on bony surfaces that are created by muscular forces are never mentioned. Another less than comprehensive aspect of this text's coverage is that there is very little description or discussion of many of the bones of the human body: many sections (e.g., Sternum, Clavicle, all the long bones) begin with essentially a list of named features, rather than with a more general discussion of the importance, developmental or evolutionary origins, or important functional roles played by these bones.
In most respects the text is accurate, although some annoying mistakes crop up (e.g., the photograph of the scapula from anterior and posterior views is from the Right Side of the skeleton, not as labelled, the Left Side. The singular of phalanges should be phalanx: this proper usage is interspersed with many incorrect usages (e.g., First Distal Phalange of the Hand).
The book is relevant (because many of us teach this course) and has the potential to be long-lived by virtue of the topic itself, which inherently does not really change. However the approach to the material taken by the authors to present and teach the material is very dated and frankly, uninspiring. Although this book has apparently been updated in 2008, it reads much more like a book written in 1978 (the year it was first "revised", according to the front matter). The methods described for estimating age, sex and "biological affinity" from the skull rely, for the most part, on sources that are 50 or more years old, and often problematic. I seriously doubt the confident statements that skulls can be reliably sexed (80%-98%, based on the completeness of the skull) based on the qualitative traits listed. This entire discussion ignores the very real facts of intra- and inter- population variation, and is an unfounded assertion lacking any cited evidence. Perhaps the most dated part of the book from my perspective is the approach to "estimating biological affinity in the skull". In this section, brief qualitative caricatures of different "racial groups" are presented, albeit with the proviso that "assessing biological affinity in the skeleton cannot be doe with a promise of great accuracy". But the old adage follows that, and I;m paraphrasing here, since the police or other "legal authorities" want us to tell them what the race of a skeletal individual was, therefore we should try. This approach completely ignore all that we have learned about the social construction of race and the problems with the biological race theory over the past 50 years and results in the same reification of a flawed biological concept that many biological anthropologists have been fighting against for decades. The same outdated and wrong-headed perspective shines through in the "Stature Estimation" section where Bill Bass's postcranial formulae are suggested as a way to estimate adult stature among "Mongoloids...Mexicans...and Blacks". This is not the way that many f us teach this material in the 21st century.
The prose is fine and the descriptions are clear per se. However, the lack of labelled drawings or photographs is very problematic. It's unclear how the student is supposed to identify named and listed landmarks on various bones in the absence of labelled illustrations. My students would require another textbook that has labelled illustrations in order to learn this material! In light of this, I don't see any real purpose that this book would serve, since other sources have similar descriptions as well as labelled images for all the bones!
I didn't notice any significant lack of consistency in this text.
The lack of a T of C, lack of page numbers (except, oddly, in the last section of the text), and the lack of any navigational tools for finding one's way thru the text, are all problems of access. A diversity of headings would also make it a lot easier to navigate. Currently, a LOT of scrolling is required to move through the text, which can be quite annoying if you don't remember where a particular section was.
The book is organized anatomically, but it lacks a parallel organization by themes or topics, for example, sex determination, age determination, pathologies, development, etc. So if you want to learn about telling males from females, you have to check the section on the skull and then the postcranial section. An alternative organization would put all the material on age or sex determination in a single chapter that follows the bone-by-bone chapters.
There really is no interface...it's just a pdf that you have to scroll through to find sections. And without a table of contents or page numbers or Figure numbers, it's VERY difficult to quickly find your way through this book. Very old fashioned interface that could really use some updating (navigation bar, linked text for terminological definitions, ability to jump to particular chapter or page number, etc.).
I didn't notice any problems with grammar or writing.
As I said earlier in this review, the treatment of the topic of race (which the authors refer to as "biological affinity" or "ethnicity") in the context of forensic identifications is very outdated and culturally insensitive. Stature estimation formulae for "Mexicans and Mongoloids" have no place in current textbooks in Anthropology. Typological descriptions of cranial morphology among "Blacks and Euro-Americans" are similarly out dated and out of place in a modern text like this one.
There are several problems with this book that make it unrealistic for me to even consider using it in my Human Osteology class. First, the complete lack of labeled drawings or photos; second, the very poor quality of the line drawings and the mediocre quality of the photos; third, the outdated and uncritical perspective on the very salient issue of determining racial or biological affinity; fourth the lack of page numbers and figure numbers and the general difficulties in navigating through this text.
As a short introduction this book is excellent and comprehensive. There is an easy readability to the language despite the difficulty students who read more
As a short introduction this book is excellent and comprehensive. There is an easy readability to the language despite the difficulty students who are new to the subject might have with the technical terms. The attention to determining biological sex and assessing age at death was accurate, easy to understand, and applicable to my human evolution curriculum. Although not a guide to pre-modern hominin skeletal elements, this textbook occasionally mentions other bipedal fossils as comparative and informative. The age of death was clear and accessible. The estimation of age at death was actually tabled well and my feeling is that is will be easily understood and remembered. The determination of sex was actually more detailed than I normally use for my 100 and 200-level classes, but I did not think that this deterred from the usefulness of this text. A glossary of terms would not be unheard of but could be crafted as an addendum by the user.
I had no issues with the accuracy of this book. I feel extremely confident in the information as presented. There are some very minor typos, but only a few. I was impressed with the quality of the photographs and the many angles that were depicted of each element. I was less impressed with the line drawings- some were okay and others were less than optimal. Although I did just criticize the drawings, I will say that some of the drawings of fragments of cranial materials have a great potential as a teaching guide. Also, some of the detailed information about the shape of a foremen or direction of blood vessels is incredibly useful because in real life burial recovery situations sometimes all you have are fragments.
I can't see this information changing much at all anytime soon. Furthermore, in this format it is portable, and the photographs are clear, with multiple angles, that I think it could be easily navigated and consulted in a field work situation, i.e. archaeological monitoring.
The textual part of the book was written in a clear voice, and the photographs that were here were also very informative as many angles were shown. The line drawings and diagrams could be more easy to understand -- perhaps more attention in labeling of characteristics that were discussed in the narrative is definitely in order. In many places, I wanted to search out open access images to see if I could find something that I could use to demonstrate the description as stated in in words to accompany the text. More pictures, more diagrams with labels and scale would make this book better. The captions under the photographs were sometimes confusing. Particularly problematic is the use of the words 'left' and 'right' below two angles of the same element. When the caption said left or right it was referring to the directions in the photograph but could easily be mistaken to infer that each view was actually the left or the right side of the human skeleton.
The terminology is consistent and expected which is an important part of this curriculum. Just learning the new focal language is a significant part of the early introduction to osteology. The order of the figures could more consistently follow the relevant text. If I was able to move the photos around in this document so that they followed directly after the narrative this would be a much better tool. Another option would be to key the figures out with numbers and then placing those in the text for the reader would also work.
I can absolutely pick and choose to assign some parts and not others of this textbook and I will. Some of it is too detailed for my curriculum and I can easily avoid assigning those sections. Furthermore, I think this text could be used as a module to reference to in any undergraduate physical anthropology curriculum.
Other than the disjuncture with the figures and the text and the desire for more images I thought the organization and flow was sensical and followed an expected trajectory building on concepts logically.
I had no issues with the interface. I could not attach it to an email to myself but I could transfer it to my tablet with google docs when I wanted to read it while traveling.
The book was grammatical. There were a few typos, just a few, but they did not in deter from the communication of the idea being presented.
The field of human osteology is inherent with the tension of a history of cultural insensitivities. I was pleased with the way the book addressed the question of racial determination in the skeleton and stressed that there was variance in human populations and that racial determination is imprecise. I though it could have stressed more that race itself is a social construct especially when it referred to questions that might be asked by authorities who would ask for this kind of information. When it did give cultural identifiers it was matter of fact observations such as 'shovel-shaped incisors', effects of cradle boarding, Inca line, that seemed more matter of fact. I was glad to not see the term 'Caucasian' used and wonder if 'Mongoloid' which is still used, is acceptable and why this racist language still exists in the discipline. Also, because of some of the historical practices of physical anthropologists and medical researchers, certain people are sensitive to the use of human remains in visual depictions. Would it be responsible to identify that these photos were of a person that had consented to this treatment of their remains? I don't know the answer to this questions but I think that it is worthy to ask if we should have a higher standard of responsible professional reflexivity when putting these images on display.
This book is an introductory book. As such, it does a good job of introducing the overall morphology of bones and the vocabulary of human osteology. read more
This book is an introductory book. As such, it does a good job of introducing the overall morphology of bones and the vocabulary of human osteology. I think that few edits would greatly improve the comprehensiveness of the book. TEXT: I really liked the presence of particular sections of the text including the paragraph on handling a skull. It would be great to include a similar section for the postcranial skeleton. I also really liked the table of vertebral characteristics. This is very useful for students to learn how to identify isolated vertebrae. It might be good to mention the homology of the coccyx with caudal vertebrae. It would be nice to define a few terms mentioned in the text (e.g., endochondral bone formation). The text mentions that some features of the limb bones can be used to side them but it is not specified how. It would be good to add this information. This was beautifully done for the bones of the wrists and the ankle. It would be useful to mention the homology of the mandible with the dentaries of non-humans. This would help emphasize the great degree of fusion of these bones in humans. Numerous muscles are mentioned in the text but their function is not often provided. It would be nice to add such information, even in a very abbreviated form, to help students understand the link between skeleton and musculature. FIGURES: Adding labels to existing figures as well as new figures would allow students to study more specific aspects of human bone morphology including foramina, processes, etc that are mentioned in the text but not labeled on figures. It would also be helpful to add anatomical directions to the figures, especially those of isolated elements of the cranium. The book makes a point of mentioning the difference in skull morphology between “biological affinities”, it might therefore be a good idea to mention in the caption of the figures if the “biological affinity” of the material is known (and the sex). A few other figures are missing captions and some captions are incomplete. A few figures could be added to help with orientation and students’ understanding of the relationships between bones / regions of the skeleton. Thus, I would love to see a diagram or photo to better explain anatomical directions, movement, and the basic morphology of teeth. I would also like a diagram or photo of a fully articulated skeleton, similar to that on the cover, but with the bones labeled. I think that the text would also benefit greatly from the addition of illustrations of the pathological conditions students could encounter, especially since specimens exhibiting these pathologies may not always be available in the lab for first hand observations. Most importantly, I would like to see a line drawing of the skull with bones labelled. Such drawing could also include labels for foramina and structures. Some elements are illustrated isolated but labelled views of the whole skull would allow students to visualize the relationship among bones and structures and help understand the list of cranial articulations provided. Another drawing with the landmarks used for measuring and the measurements labeled would also be useful. Similarly, I also wish that the features of the bones of the postcranial skeleton would be labeled on the photos/drawings of these elements.
The textbook is very accurate. The only think I noticed is the inclusion of the sacrum in the pelvic girdle, which can be a little bit confusing. I would move it to the section on the axial skeleton.
This introductory textbook is up-to-date. This knowledge is unlikely to change. The osteology of humans has been studied for a very long time and is a well established. This textbook will need little updating.
The text is well written. Anatomical descriptions are often fairly dry. This textbook is easy to read. I liked the many lists and bulleted section of the text. They do not drown the information in a narrative and are easy to reference. There are some terms throughout the text that are not defined but probably should be (e.g., sexual dimorphism and pituitary gland).
There are a few words that are not spelled consistently (e.g., “postcranium”) but nothing major or that affects comprehension.
This text can very easily divided into different sections. It is always hard to isolated the different parts of the human skeleton from one another because of the relationships between the different parts of the body. However, it would be easy to use this textbook in tackling isolated components of the skeleton. It would be even easier if a table of content and an index were provided. The book could also use some more bold font, underlining, etc. to structure the text and make easier the differentiation between its different sections..
I wish the figures would be numbered and referenced in the text to better connect the text, lists … with the figures and also allow the index to reference the figures. Many figures lack a scale. It would be beneficial to give students an idea of the size of bones. Though some bones may be familiar to students (size of the skull for example), others may be more difficult (e.g., podials). I also wish the list of “anatomical features” was changed to bolded or highlighted terms throughout the text so that they are put into context. Bolded terms could then be further defined at the end of the book. Putting the figures of the male and female skulls next to one another would enable easier comparisons, even if the figures end up smaller. The addition of line drawings are very useful.
There are no major issues with the interface of the textbook.
There are very few typos in the text that do not affect comprehension.
The topic of this book is not particularly culturally sensitive. The authors do not incorporate obsolete and unsupported ethnic, racial, and discriminatory categorizations of the skeleton that have been published in the past.
This is a really helpful book that provides a good succinct introduction to the osteology of humans. A few edits (table of contents, index, labelled and comprehensive figures) would make this textbook a very valuable tool for human osteology courses.
Book does not include a table of contents. The areas of coverage for an introductory text are very through and detailed; however, there is no index read more
Book does not include a table of contents. The areas of coverage for an introductory text are very through and detailed; however, there is no index or glossary. The topic itself is very technical and many words that would normally occur in a glossary are defined in the text itself, but maybe underline or bolding the terms would make them stand out as important to the reader. A nice, brief, descriptive text for introductory students.
It appears to be highly accurate. The field of human osteology has not changed much as far as bone identification is concerned. No bias in the text (again, due to the nature of this subject, there is not a lot of room for bias).
NO real updating is needed in an osteology text, save for any advances in sex/age estimation and paleopathology are concerndd.
Easy to read, fairly straightforward.
Looks like your standard osteology text, uses appropriate terminology and generally goes from the top of the head down, leaving sex/age estimation for the end.
Yes, very much so. One could take individual sections of the skeleton and work within this text quite easily.
Presented as a general "owner's manual" for the skeleton. Organized very similar to standard osteology texts.
The only thing would be to add a table of contents. Also, some of the page numbers are inconsistent.
Well written, scientific voice, but geared toward introductory students. Human osteology is a very descriptive field, so not alot of room for prose.
Again, the nature of this book does not lend itself to insensitivity -- they have done an excellent job of staying away from ethnic/racial categorization of the skeleton.
Nice, brief little book. Many illustrations, but it might be nice to have them integrated throughout the book. Presently, they appear after the narrative. A table of contents is a must for this type of book and maybe an appendix.
While the discussions of particular functional-morphological skeletal complexes in the work are quite complete, one possible improvement might be to read more
While the discussions of particular functional-morphological skeletal complexes in the work are quite complete, one possible improvement might be to add, near the end of each section, a few words about the possible evolutionary development of each of these complexes. It might be of some benefit, for example, to see a discussion of the presumed evolutionary factors "selecting for" the limited size of, say, the zygomatic arch in modern humans. Femur lengthening is another topic of particular import to many species within the genus Homo, and it might enhance our appreciation of the functional modalities of the leg to have such a conversation, however brief. Clearly, too much detail in this regard would lie well beyond the scope of the present work; but the authors do set the stage for such a discussion on the first page when they briefly allude to the function of bone, and a few brief allusions to prevailing evolutionary scenarios might round out the work.
The book appears to be very accurate, correctly identifying the salient characteristics of the structural-morphological skeletal complexes within the human body, both in terms of physical detail, and in terms of the relevant terminological nomenclature. The only area where there appears to be something of a diminution in accuracy is in several of the line drawings of the relevant bone material. While many of these drawings are passable (and even these might be enhanced with closer attention to line-work emphasizing depth, contour, and angularity of the bones depicted), some of the drawings are extremely sketchy at best. Let me call particular attention, by way of example, to the drawings of the Humerus, Radius, and Ulna found near the mid-point of the book. These drawings could definitely benefit from the attention of a professional illustrator, or even from that of an archaeological graduate student who specialized in artifact/bone drawings. Moreover, it would also have been nice to have seen a drawing of the actual articulation of the Radius/Ulna bones, similar to the drawing of the articulation of the Tibia/Fibula bones found later in the work.
The book is clearly of surpassing relevance for anyone with a professional interest in the human skeleton; thus also, the book will doubtless have extreme longevity as a scientific manual.
The book is very clear, even if jargon-intensive. Admittedly, the jargon is a critical part of the didactic exposition of the text, and its mastery is absolutely essential for anyone having a professional interest in human osteology. That said, I believe the book would benefit immeasurably from the inclusion of a detailed glossary at the end of the work! (I cannot underscore this point too greatly.) Furthermore, as part of any such glossary a pronunciation guide should be provided for each term. Remember, this is an introductory textbook after all, and the pronunciation of some of these terms is not always intuitive, especially when one has not been exposed to these terms in actual conversation. FURTHERMORE: my most important recommendation for this work is that at least one set of line-drawings, per bone, have all of the relevant terminology affixed thereto, with lines clearly pointing out the particular characteristic or trait in question. I do recognize that some of these drawings, and/or the photographs themselves, might have been presented as testing templates since they have been left unlabeled, but surely it would be sufficient for the photographs themselves to serve that function, while the line-drawings could be labeled with the relevant terminology. This single addition, I believe, would greatly enhance the teaching experience of the textbook.
The text is consistent and minimalist throughout. This is an effective approach insofar as it focuses attention on the detail of the individual bones themselves, as well as their identifiying characteristics and terminological references. There does seem to be a consistency issue, however, with the way the text articulates with multiple photographs and drawings accompanying the skeletal-complex discussions. In general, a set of illustrative photographs are placed immediately following the textual discussions of particular bones, and bone characteristics. These are generally followed by line drawings of the same bones, or bone-complexes. There are a few examples, however, of photographs not being followed by line drawings; or of some photographs showing most, but not all, of the relevant angles of observation (for instance, there are no posterior photographic views of the cranium, even though very complete photographs of the anterior, lateral, superior, and inferior views of the cranium have been included; a posterior view would have illustrated the suture connecting the occipital with the parietals, and thus further complemented the text). A posterior photograph of the cranium (or any cranium?) should be added for consistency's sake. One final note: the headings on the line-drawings do not reproduce the specificity of the headings on the photographs. This should be rectified and made consistent. In particular, the anterior, and/or posterior views of the bone(s) in question should be added to each such line-drawing heading, to mirror the photographic headings/descriptions. Currently, some of the line-drawings merely have headings like: "Humerus," or "Radius," or "Ulna," without specifying whether the view is anterior or posterior.
The book is extremely well organized in terms of its modularity. Once one does finally locate the pages where a new structural-morphological skeletal complex is discussed, then that "module" is, in fact, very accessible as a discrete unit. But as I indicated in the section "Organization/Flow" below, the problem, here, is in quickly identifying the location of those major sub-heading transitions. Please refer to my comments below for further amplification on the problem of the lack of sub-headings. (Indeed, when I initially looked at the text on-line, I was forced to flip from page to page, navigating by the photographs of particular bones rather than by sub-headings, to actually get my bearings in the work.) The potential for effective modularity is high, but would be enhanced immeasurably with the addition of sequential page numbers throughout the work, and the inclusion of a working "Table of Contents" at the outset.
In general the book is extremely well organized, proceeding from one "skeletal complex" to the next (by skeletal complex I refer to the major structural-morphological groupings like the cranium; the post-cranial bones; the arm bones; the leg bones; etc.). The only difficulty lay in quickly identifying the actual transition between such complexes. Admittedly, the major headings for the two largest complexes--skull and post-cranial bones--are clearly indicated, but beyond this, i.e., at the sub-heading level, the transition from one complex to the next is not always immediately apparent. These transitions of course become obvious with a cursory examination of the actual bones listed, but it would greatly assist the introductory student if the sub-heading transitions were also clearly indicated. For instance, under the major heading: "Post-Cranial Bones" it would have been helpful to see a well-demarcated sub-heading for "Arm Bones", and then subsequently for "Leg Bones." That did not occur; instead, beneath "Post-Cranial Bones" we see an immediate list of morphological terms relevant to the Humerus, then the same for the Radius, and the same for the Ulna. The sub-heading "Arm Bones" would seem to have been appropriate here, and would have enhanced the flow of the work. The same argument could be made, perhaps with even greater validity, to the transition away from the arm bones (i.e., away from certain images and drawings of the major arm bones found near the end of that section) to the various bones of the leg. At present, on the page following the final drawing of an ulna, one merely finds a list of characteristics of the Femur, the Patella, the Fibula, and the Tibia. It would have been nice to have seen the topic of this new section formally stated: viz. "The Leg Bones."
I could not detect any interface issues whatsoever.
There are occasional issues of spelling, which I attribute more to typographical mistakes than to any laxity in grammatical excellance. For instance, on the first page, near the bottom, we find the following sentence: "...contains the bone forming cells call osteoblasts." Clearly, "call" should be "called." A few additional spelling errors were detected from time to time. Otherwise, in terms of overall sentence and paragraph construction, the work is elegant and economical at all times and merits high praise.
One glaring issue here is the way the work retains the now archaic terminology: "fossil man." This terminology is consistently found throughout the work, and really should be changed to a de-genderized presentation such as: "fossilized humans." After nearly thirty years of attention to de-genderization issues in our scientific works (and indeed, in our everyday language usage), it comes as a spectacularly noticeable oversight to still find the phrase "fossil man" used in a reputable scientific manual such as this. I recommend immediate attention to this issue, throughout the work.
I immensely enjoyed reading and reviewing this work. With attention to the few recommendations for improvement that I have made above, I think the work will remain a standard in the field for years to come.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Crania
- Chapter 2: Limbs
- Chapter 3: Hands and Feet
- Chapter 4: Vertebral Column and Thorax
- Chapter 5: Pelvis and Dentition
About the Book
This text was designed for use in the human osteology laboratory classroom. Bones are described to aid in identification of skeletonized remains in either an archaeological or forensic anthropology setting. Basic techniques for siding, aging, sexing, and stature estimation are described. Both images of bone and drawings are included which may be used for study purposes outside of the classroom. The text represents work that has been developed over more than 30 years by its various authors and is meant to present students with the basic analytical tools for the study of human osteology.
About the Contributors
Roberta Hall, Professor Emeritus, College of Liberal Arts, Oregon State University. PhD Anthropology, University of Oregon.
Kenneth L. Beals, Professor Emeritus, Anthropology, Oregon State University.
Dr. Holm Neumann is an orthopedic surgeon in Bend, Oregon. He received his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.
Georg Neumann, assistant professor of zoology (emeritus), Indiana University, Bloomington.
Gwyn Madden received her PhD from University of Nevada. Bioarchaeologist with specialty in osteology, paleopathology, and mummy research. Current research focuses on excavation in Ukraine, analysis of Byzantine period skeletal remains from Jordan, and analysis of three South American mummies housed in Norway; additional research preparing Osteoware data collection system in association with the Smithsonian Institution. She teaches courses on the connection between culture and the physical body as well as general courses in anthropology, archaeology, and physical anthropology.