My favorite place in the world is Oklahoma. I've been going there several times a year since I was a tiny tot to visit my grandparents who live in the beautiful farmland outside of OKC. I've visited during stifling summer heat, droughts, floods, and blizzards, and never have I wished I was elsewhere. The red dirt, the slightly southern accents, and the stunning sunsets draw me in and I never want to leave. However, what I love the most is the people I get to see while I'm there. Since we were tiny they've played with us, taught us (how to drive, how to make egg noodles, and how to play Carrom), and shown great interest and support in our lives. Last week Logan and I drove down for our summer visit and they took us to one of the coolest museums I've been to: The Museum of Osteology (America's ONLY skeleton museum).

At first I was unsure how I would feel about the whole thing because although I'm a science geek, I like to stick to physical science, like astronomy, geology, physics, or chemistry. But if you start talking Anatomy and Physiology, Bio, or any form of life science, I'll get out ASAP. A&P was a struggle in academy simply because just talking about anything body-related makes me want to pass out. But I decided that an entire museum of just plain bones couldn't be so bad, after all they are all dried up and bleached and clean. And it was awesome! I wish they had a place like that here that they could have taken my class to! 

The museum had two levels with a space in the middle that went straight to the ceiling. This is where they hung some giant whale skeletons and had rhino and giraffe skeletons that you could touch. 
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In the glass cases all the way around, they had smaller skeletons of every animal you could thing of, snakes, shrews, alpacas, bats, birds, and some animals I hadn't even heard of! They also had some human skulls and skeletons but it was a little unclear if they were real or reproductions. Many of the teeth, however, are not original bone. They've been added and look much nicer than you would think.
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Click to enlarge.
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Click to enlarge.
The smallest skeleton I saw was this teeny tiny shrew. I don't even know HOW they put it back together. The hugest one was the giant whale hanging in the middle of the room. It's a humpback whale which, although is not as big as a blue whale, was pretty massive. They had a video that showed how it was put together and hung from the ceiling beams. 

Ok, now remember how I hate blood and body stuff? Despite that, one of the most interesting things in the museum was a video compilation about how exactly the bones are prepared. See, the museum is adjacent to a place called Skulls Unlimited. Not exactly somewhere you'd go for a fun shopping spree. Basically, it's a company (which owns and operates the museum) that takes bodies and does the dirty job (literally) of, well, stripping them down to the bones. And then cleaning, bleaching, and reassembling the entire skeleton. And it is QUITE the process. They mostly cater to hunters, schools (for educational purposes) and random people who find animal bodies and just want a skeleton. They say they've done every kind of animal and have even reassembled some human bones.

As much as I would love to explain every shocking and disgusting detail (and I would- it's fascinating) of the process, I'm going to let my friend Mike Rowe do it for me. Yep, Mike Rowe came to the company and filmed an episode for his hit Discovery series Dirty Jobs. In a letter he wrote (which is displayed in the gift shop), the original cut was just too, well, dirty, to air on the discovery channel. So they cut some more until it was viewer-appropriate, but Mike felt that it didn't do the job justice. Yep, Mike, we're basically on a first-name basis. Click here to watch the clip from the episode. In short, as much "stuff" (no need to use a more descriptive word here or I'll get queasy) is cut from the bones and then they are placed in giant tanks of beetles, which eat any leftover stuff. Then they soak them in a peroxide solution so they come out squeak

Here's a few more photos from the day. The hummingbird was by far the cutest skeleton (skeletons can be cute, right?) and this fellow with the tusks was one of the strangest. The egg display was so cool because of all the different colors!
I would give this museum a 10 on uniqueness, informativeness (is that a word?), and display. Not that anyone is asking. But it was so awesome! I'd highly recommend it to classes for field trips since it's not too big and super educational! We had a great time while we were down in OK  are we were sad to go. 
grandma
8/6/2012

Shelby, I love this blog on Okie-Dokie. And your essay on the Museum of Osteology and Skulls Unlimited is great. Makes me want to go again, so come on down and we'll go again! I'm so glad that you love Oklahoma and it is your most favorite place in the world!

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