The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia
Friday, 10 June 2022 16:01

UTK has quite the collection of earthly remains

Editorial cartoon depicting Charles Darwin as an ape 1871

WBIR: UT got good bones

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee boasts an incredible collection of animal skeletons — from hummingbirds to bison, according to a story from WBIR. It’s among the largest such assemblages in the country. (There are also skeletons at the Body Farm, but that’s a different story).

The skeletons are part of the UT Anthropology Department’s Vertebrate Osteology Collection.

“We have over 12,000 vertebrate specimens in our collections. So that’s 12,000 skeletons of individual animals,” Dr. Anneke Janzen, an assistant professor in UT’s Anthropology Department, told WBIR.

The collection includes skulls and skeletons ranging in size from small bats to bison. It also includes skulls of dolphins, ostriches and alligators.

“Beyond just being able to identify bones and identify different species based on tiny bone fragments, I think students have a much greater appreciation for, you know, the diversity of animal life out there and much greater appreciation for animals in our backyards as well,” Janzen told WBIR.

The collection is available for analysis by professional researchers, and parts can be seen by the public during the annual Darwin Day at the university.