76: The skeleton


52 minutes

In this lesson we finally get to some classic anatomy– the names of the bones!

(Please note that the lefty template does not appear in the workbook.  It just didn’t fit in.)


Template page for drawing 76

Special “lefty” template for drawing 76 (optional)

Info page for drawing 76

Final sample for drawing 76


Activity 76-1:  “Whack-a-bone” online video game

To review the names of the major bones of the body, check out this online interactive quiz game:


Activity 76-2:  Bones in art history

Here’s the artistic side of bones!  This video introduces you to a selection of artists, from the Renaissance to present day, who used bones in their artwork.

Activity 76-3:  Try some of your own bone art

After watching the bone art video above, try making your own art using bones.  It could be as simple as a pencil sketch or as challenging as a watercolor or acrylic painting.  If you can possibly get a real bone to look at, that’s best.  Chicken bones can be boiled and then cleaned.  If you can’t get a real bone, there are plenty of bone images on the Internet that you can download and print out.  No matter what kind of bone you use, consider making the bone take up most of the space on your page.  Think of the Georgia O’Keefe paintings where the bone went right off the page.  Look carefully at the shape and texture of your bone as you work.  Can you see areas of spongy bone?  Or tiny holes where blood vessels may have come in?


Activity 76-4:  Dissection activity

Buy some chicken backs, and a neck, too, if you can get one.  (Turkey necks are sometimes sold individually.  They are nice because the bones are bigger than chicken bones.)  Backs are the cheapest cuts to get because there is not much meat on them.  You could also just buy a whole chicken.  In whole chickens, they often put the necks inside the body cavity, along with the liver and gizzard.  If you have a liver and gizzard, take a look at them before cooking everything.   The gizzard is a very tough stomach, and the ripply texture will give you an idea of what the inside of our stomachs look like, though ours might not be quite as tough as a gizzard.

Save out one back so you have a raw one to compare to the cooked ones.  Boil or bake the rest of the bones.  Cook them well so that the meat comes of the bones easily.

Begin peeling the muscles (meat) off the bones.  Work slowly and carefully and notice how and where the muscles are attached to the bones.  Are the tendons still keeping the muscles attached?  Can you find white hyaline cartilage anywhere?  Once you have all the meat removed from around the spine, start pulling the vertebrae apart.  Can you find the spinal cord inside the vertebrae?  Does each vertebra have a hole for the cord?  Can you find the remains of any blood vessels? (They may be unrecognizable at this point.)  What keeps the vertebrae together?  (If you have a turkey neck, all these vertebrae questions will be easier.)

Separate all the vertebrae and remove all the connective tissue.  (A scrubbing brush helps.)  If you set them in a warm, dry place they will preserve very well.  After they have been separated, can you figure out how to put them back together?  (It’s not easy!)  Some pictures of vertebrae, even human vertebrae, might help you figure out how they go.  Remember, the thing that sticks out (the spinous process) goes toward the back, not the front.

Activity 76-5:  Forensics

Analysis of a skeleton is part of forensic science.  The length of a femur bone, for example, can help to determine the height of an individual if part of the skeleton is missing.  This is especially important in historical forensics, where remains of people from past centuries, or past millennia, are being examined.  The gender can be determined by looking at the pelvic bones.  Here is an excellent 2-minute summary of how you can tell a male pelvis from a female pelvis:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1Qm7d4cCt8


Foot anatomy (8 min.)



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