Yesterday I feel like I really got to grips with the software that my 2 coursemates and I are going to be using in our Virtual Anatomies module for the next 6 weeks.
It took a good 4 hours but I finally reconstructed the skull of a macaque monkey (Wikipedia). It may sound like a long time just to do what you’re about to see, but the software (Avizo) is a bit touchy about whether it wants to do what you tell it when you tell it to. I was lucky to finish, my coursemates weren’t quite so lucky.
I am by no means an Avizo prodigy.
Our task was to reconstruct the missing cheek bone (zygoma) on a macaque skull which had been 3D-scanned into the computer.
Check out all the screen shots. Pretty cool, I hope you’ll agree.
Today, I thought I’d give you a taste of what I’ve been introduced to over the last 2 weeks in my Primate Ecology and Evolution module.
Have a look at these evolutionary trees which I’ve drawn showing (to the best of my knowledge) the order in which different groups of primates diverged from one another.
Then realise that we’ve also been taught this for ALL MAMMALS from the egg-laying platypus right up to the blue whale.
We all know what bones are, right? The hard bits that your skeleton is made up of come in loads of different shapes, are made of calcium and are not really alive.
Wrong, as it turns out.
Yes, bone is hard, but there are also soft bits and it is constantly, if slowly, being destroyed and reformed. How else do we heal from fractures?
But there’s more to it than that.
That got your attention, didn’t it?
I know this sort of statement is up there with heresy and treason but let me try to explain my position. The British televisual institution who is Sir David Attenborough has presented a lot of shows in his time, his most recent offering being the ambitious (both in title and in scope) ‘David Attenborough’s Rise of the Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates’, of which the second episode is available to UK readers here.
This is the episode that I have the most problems with, although it seems like the entire series is going to consist of shows which try to cover too much material in too short a time, and therefore not going into enough depth for my liking. Hopefully future episodes will prove me wrong, or maybe that’s just me as a scientist wanting to see deeper understanding being communicated rather than only covering the most superficial of details.