Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Alas.......Poor Yorkie

No, I didn't get it wrong...I'm original. Geddit?

Neither do I, it's ok.

Bruce got a very interesting email today, amongst the usual boring complaints about lack of water pressure, malfunctioning air conditioning and broken door hinges, this gem of an email really stood out.

It was from a guy called Toby explaining how he had this skull.......Apparently it was found in a filing cabinet that came from Central Services, but they believe it originally belonged to us ('us' being a very loose term, I suspect anyone working within the Division of Biosciences constitutes 'us'). It's been gathering dust in the PhD office for a couple of years and he figured it should be returned to its rightful owners.

'Oh...and we think it's real'

As soon as I heard 'real' I wanted it, I wanted a real human skull, I want it for my office. MINE! Bruce seemed equally enamored so we asked where we could pick it up from and I hurried over post-haste.

When I was presented with said skull (which the current owner seemed remarkably reluctant to touch) I was surprised at the relatively small size, but then, I'm used to lugging alligator skulls around at the zoo.

At first I was a little skeptical over whether it was real or not. This may have been because of his fetching additions. There are springs attaching the temples to the mandible in order to allow demonstration of how muscles work the jaws, and lovely little clips on each side of the cranium that hold on the top half of the skull, it's been neatly sliced off to allow inspection of the insides.

Upon closer inspection I've decided that it's likely real, I've seen a few replicas in my time and this has faaar too much detail. If it's a replica then it's a very good one!

The guys I picked it up off of began asking me questions:

'Can you tell us anything about it?'



Whereupon I started to feel exceedingly stupid...but consoled myself with the fact that had Bruce come to pick it up he'd have been just as stumped! I confessed that I knew nothing but that I could probably give it to someone who did. Before I left they made me promise to email with anything I found out. Clearly they'd become quite attached over the years....I wonder if they'll lament the loss of their bookend?

So, as promised, when I returned to the office I looked up the guy who ran the MSc in Palaeoanthropology and sent him a little email. One of the things I love about working at UCL is being able to send strange little emails like this, I'd never have sent this working at TESCO:

Hello Andrew,

I hope my email finds you well :o)

My colleague and I received a strange email today asking if we’d like to rehome a skull that’s been gathering dust with them for a while. They found it in a filing cabinet that they got from central stores and must have found us in association with the Div of Biosciences.

When I picked it up they seemed interested to know a bit about it, ie, male, female, age etc. I can’t give them ANY of that detail (for shame…I did the palaeoanthropology module with Charlie in 2004ish). I was wondering if you know anyone I can show it to who might be able to shed some light?

This is where I take it to someone and find out it’s plastic…….I think I’ll prepare a hole to bury myself in, just in case.

Thanks very much for your time, I look forward to hearing from you,



To which he replied:

Hi Becki,

This is one of the emails I will remember!! I have given AC a ring, who is a postdoc in the IoA in human osteology, and she would be happy to have a look at it. Her email is (booger), but I am copying her in, so she will probably get in touch.

Best wishes,


(Her email isn't REALLY booger, but that would be cool!)

I tell you what, it's so nice when we have little interesting things like this going on to just distract us from the endless firefighting that we seem to do sometimes.

Alas.....poor Yorkie....we know him not at all!! But soon we shall....Horatio...*ahem*

Do I hear Shakespeare turning in his grave?


  1. Wow...
    Ambrose Bierce, one of my favorite pessimistic writers, kept a skull on his desk. Sais it was one of his critics...

  2. It's teeth aren't in very good condition!

  3. Maybe I should become a creative writey writer person....

    HIS teeth Nicki!! I have decided it's a He until I'm proved wrong (and I most likely will be proved wrong)