Bones are awesome and fascinating things. They hold us together, protect our inner organs and other workings, and allow us to keep our shape while doing all the things that we do, most of which we couldn't do without bones. Yes, muscles and tendons are also necessary, but bones are the foundation on which they are laid. Without them, we'd be just like octopi, squid, or even jellyfish.
Most people don't like to look at bones because, of course, they see in them the death of something. But when I look at bones, I see what (or who) was once a living, breathing being. I see the beauty of the inner pieces of us that (hopefully) no one usually sees while we are alive, unless we have x-rays or CT scans taken, although that's not quite the same thing.
I have some wonderful bones at home, aside from my lovely snake vertebrae earrings. My favorite is a tiny mouse skull that I found in my community garden plot several years ago. It is the most awesome and delicate thing I have ever seen. I also have a bobcat skull, which I found at a unique store in Berkeley called The Bone Room. The size differential between the two is incredible. And I have a partial bone from a lion that died on the African savannah. Even when this bone was whole it was fairly small (probably a phalange from a paw), but I'm sure the lion wasn't!
And then there is the mystery bone that I found in -- of all places -- the vee in the trunk of the tree in my garden! I have NO idea what type of bone it is; again, it is a partial. I'm thinking it was probably grabbed from a trash can by either a cat or a large bird. But it also could have been from a kill at the regional park near us, and brought by either a cat or a bird. We have both hawks and seagulls flying over and around our apartment complex. While the seagulls usually just pass over us quite high up, some hawks nest close by and sometimes actually roost briefly in my plum tree. How the bone ended up in the tree where it did I will leave to your imagination.
Human bones are even more fascinating! I was lucky enough to be able to take an independent study Human Osteology Lab class while getting my BA, which meant that I got to go to the "Bone Room" of the Anthropology Department every day and work on putting a human skeleton together. Because it was an independent study class, I could choose my own times to go (no formal class time, and it was just me), and was able to put it together by myself. I could have done it fairly quickly, much quicker than I did, but instead I allowed myself to go slowly and savor the opportunity. Each time I went, I read about that day's bone in my textbook, then searched the drawers and boxes until I found the correct number of them, studied them carefully, and finally put them in place on the table. If I couldn't find a bone I was looking for that day (there were a few that had gone AWOL), I wrote its name on a post-it and stuck it in the right spot. Just to be different from what I figured most people did, I started with the feet and worked my way up to the skull. Of the 206 bones in the human body, the only one I was not able to find to include on my skeleton was the hyoid. Here is a picture of the final result: