Osteology

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osteology

[‚äs·tē′äl·ə·jē]
(anatomy)
The study of anatomy and structure of bone.

Osteology

 

the branch of anatomy that studies the skeleton.

Many bones were first described by Hippocrates, but osteology did not develop until the introduction of cadaver dissection, histological techniques, microscopy of bones, and roentgenography. The science is divided into general osteology, comparative osteology, developmental osteology, and special osteology; the last studies the development and structure of individual bones. Osteology achieved particular importance owing to improved surgical treatment of bone and joint diseases and injuries.

Many bone diseases are cured by orthopedic methods. The following classification of bone diseases has been adopted in the Soviet Union: traumatic, comprising fractures, traumatic arthroses, and deforming spondylosis; inflammatory, which can be specific (tuberculous and syphilitic bone diseases) or nonspecific (osteomyelitis, osteitis); degenerative, including toxic, alimentary, and endocrine bone diseases and bone diseases associated with diseases of the internal organs; and dysplastic, characterized by developmental anomalies of cartilage, osteosclerosis, or inadequate or excessive development of bones (for example, gigantism). Dysplastic bone diseases also include bone tumors, which can be benign (osteoma, chondroma) or malignant; in the latter case, the tumor is primary (osteogenic sarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Ewing’s tumor) or secondary (metastatic tumors).

Osteology is used in anthropology to determine the racial, sexual, or developmental patterns of variations in size and shape of the skeleton of modern man. The morphogenesis of the human skeleton is studied by examining the morphology of fossil man and tracing the intrauterine development of the skeleton.

Using both anthropometric and descriptive methods, osteology relies heavily on postmortem study of the skeleton. The data are analyzed statistically and graphically. One concern of osteology is to derive absolute numerical expressions for the sizes and ratios of sizes of bones. For example, the ratio of the transverse diameters of a long bone to the length is a useful expression of the massiveness of the bone. The angle of inclination of individual sections of bone, for instance, the longitudinal axis of a diaphysis or the neck of the femur, can be measured with appropriate instruments. Osteological and craniological data continue to be almost the only resources available for the study of the morphology of fossil man.

References in periodicals archive ?
Accurate determination of sex from the human skull is of great importance to osteologists and the forensic anthropologists as it is critical for individual identification.
Osteologists vary widely in their experience with known collection of sex determining parameters, and this undoubtedly influences the amount of weight they give in sex determination to the differences in the shape of the greater sciatic notch.
(95) Similarly, the use of human remains in university teaching for archaeologists and osteologists is also acceptable "provided the remains are treated respectfully" and written guidelines given to students on what "respectful treatment means in practical terms".
Clinical osteologists often are called on to hasten the healing process or to intervene surgically when fracturing is so severe that natural healing is unlikely or there is risk of infection.
This was an interdisciplinary effort on the part of archaeologists and osteologists. Naturally, there were restrictions presented by the site itself.
After formation of the standing committee, three goals were established:(43) Supply expert advice from traditional Native American elders, human osteologists, American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) and ARPA specialists, legal advisors, forensic specialists, and academic and research specialists; 2) to educate the public and promote intercultural awareness(44) and crime prevention; and 3) to create and empower an enforcement force that would cover the jurisdictional law for each agency, and incorporate tribal representatives, archaeologists, landowners and district attorneys.
Some scholars have claimed that remains are a public cultural heritage and that academic freedom should allow archaeologists and osteologists continued access to skeletal materials for scientific and educational purposes.
Some other museum osteologists in the early part of the century were interested in getting action into skeleton mounts.
Incorporation of human osteologists and biological anthropologists, including George Armelagos, in large-scale rescue excavations of mortuary sites in southern Egypt and northern Sudan in the 1960s accelerated this paradigm shift (Baker 2016:183-184; see Martin and Zuckerman 2016 for a review of Armelagos's influence on biocultural research).
It is in any case advisable that scientific dating of the bones becomes a more regular practice in the research of prehistoric graves and, also, that osteologists have patience to pay attention and clearly discuss the observations of archaeologists made during excavation.