Building a virtual skeletal collection

less than 1 minute read

From The Independent (UK), a teaser about a 3-d virtual skeletal collection: “Forensic scientists need skeletons to train but theyre down to bare bones”.

[M]any universities are struggling to provide the next generation of crime scene investigators with actual bones on which to practice.
Now a British company, Anthronomics, hopes to solve the problem by working with computer game developers to create new software which scans existing skeletal collections and makes 3D digital images of them available on tablet devices such as the iPad.

There are some free options already out there, including eSkeletons from the University of Texas-Austin, and some paid options including a few anatomy-centric iPad apps. What they lack is an ability to compare samples to understand variation. Here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we have a very good teaching collection for most skeletal elements, but could definitely use a broader representation of variation to give students the ability to learn about geographic differences among populations, more about sexual dimorphism in humans and other primates, and pathology. Virtual models cannot replace contact with the skeletal material, but I see an important role for such models as a supplement to what we can do in the laboratory.