Quite some time ago, possibly over a year ago, we took Elspeth to the Melbourne Zoo. On display near the elephants is an elephant skull. Upon seeing it, she was first slightly nervous, and then overcame that to become quite interested. Ever since then, she’s had something of an obsession with skulls.
She asks to look at pictures of skulls – she will specify an animal – and she will point out to people, ‘You have a skull in your head!’
Recently, as part of my university studies (Human Evolution & Diversity), I was looking at some pictures of skulls of various ancient hominid species including the famous ‘Lucy’. Elspeth was on my lap. I scrolled past the pictures to read the text at the bottom of the page, and she began protesting:
‘Go back so I can see the skulls! They’re beautiful pictures. I like skulls.’
I think I’ve created a future paleoanthropologist!
I’m thrilled with the things she takes an interest in. I can see how skulls might seem a bit morbid, but they’re fascinating really. The amount you can tell about an animal just from its skull is almost unbelievable.
For instance, from the position of the spot where the spine joins the head, you can tell whether an animal is bipedal or quadrupedal. From patterns of wear on the teeth you can tell what it ate and what else it used its teeth for; for instance, Eskimos and Neandertals both use(d) their teeth to soften hides so they could be worked into boots.
I hope Elspeth keeps her curiosity and fascination with all sorts of interesting and bizarre things. There is so much to know about so many things!