Focus on the analysis of ancient and modern bone: A virtual issue


The study of Anatomy as broadly defined takes on the full spectrum of biology with a common goal: analysis of form and function. A look at just one organ system or tissue through the anatomist's eyes can reveal a great amount of scientific information about the micros and macros life: structural-functional as well as developmental and evolutionary. The New Anatomist (The Anatomical Record, Part B, an official journal of the American Association of Anatomists) is pleased to present a collection of articles on aspects of the analysis of bone, from, good old-fashioned morphologic observation to fine microstructural analysis and computer-enhanced visualization. We provide several articles—new, previously published, and yet-to-be published—in a virtual online set through Wiley's Anatomy Web ( as a means of conveniently presenting to our readers select examples from our valuable collection of bone-related reports.

The three new articles in the present issue focus on a broad range of bone and fossil analysis. Zeitoun (2003) describes a heretofore unreported feature present on some specimens of Homo erectus and considers its possible developmental and evolutionary implications. Bromage et al. (2003) report their use of circularly polarized light in the analysis of collagen fiber orientation in different types of bone. Finally, Cooper et al. (2003) describe advances in micro-computed tomography (μCT) in analyzing cortical bone.

While these three papers represent our most recent publications on this broad topic, our journal's archives contain many other noteworthy reports that will comprise the virtual bone issue. The articles in this collection will initially include: a brief discourse on Neanderthals as a distinctive evolutionary entity (Tattersall and Schwartz, 1998); a study of Allosaurus evolution by spiral CT fossil analysis (Rogers, 1999); morphometric analysis of hominid cranial fossils (Bookstein et al., 1999); the and use of digital enhancement as a tool for investigating fossil bone and tooth surfaces (Gilbert and Richards, 2000). Kolesnikov et al. (2001) offer an anatomical reappraisal of the Romanov family skeletal remains and reaffirm the death of Anastasia; while Borah et al. (2001) describe 3D microimaging and μCT analysis of osteoporotic bone architecture.

Weber (2001) offers a proposal for fossil sharing via “virtual anthropology” and Sarmiento et al. (2002) take a careful look at morphology-based systematics and fossil analysis. Additional reports include: exploration of common evolutionary patterns in hominid facial bone development (Rogers Ackermann and Krovitz, 2002); a look at Neanderthal dental morphology (Bailey, 2002); and a commentary on the process of naming fossils (Tattersall and Schwartz, 2002).

The most recent archival members of this collection include an investigation of cetacean brain evolution via CT analysis of cranium fossils (Marino et al., 2003) and a method for in silico virtual repair of damaged or encrusted fossil crania (Prossinger et al., 2003). Complemented by the three articles in the present issue, we hope that this online library of reviews, original research, and commentary on a broad range of bone-related topics will provide a valuable resource for students and specialists. We hope to supplement this online archive periodically with specially selected publications from The New Anatomist. This collection represents only a fraction of the articles we've published in this important research area. In the future the composition of the list may change through editorial decision, in order to present the best works possible to our online readership. Be sure to bookmark the Virtual Bone Issue page at