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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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  1. yogahz says:

    Congratulations on the new job!

  2. Hurricane Ditka says:

    I vaguely remember a McGyver episode covered this subject. Except he used erasers from a #2 pencil for spacers.

  3. Erin says:

    Ah I love the fainting goats! That’s one of those go to videos I always show people when they’re bored, that and the narcoleptic dachshund.

  4. Amrehlu says:

    Those goats were used awhile back as scapegoats… they’d put them in with sheep or other important livestock while they’re out grazing. If a wolf or some other predator attacked, the goat would fall over and the predator would take it instead of the more valuable livestock that would’ve put up more of a fight to kill and eat.

  5. deb says:

    You had me at “FAINTING GOATS!”
    Ah, cataplexy…it’s funny when it is happening to someone/thing ELSE for a change…!

  6. MacGyver did the facial reconstruction thing once with pencil erasers and a skull he discovered buried on the property. Penny was along for the shenanigans.

  7. Huzzah new job!

    And I want one of those goats.

  8. Ah, Benny Hill, is there any genetic disorder you can’t make HILARIOUS . . . I don’t think so.