A small research project manuscript led by one of my lab undergraduate alumna - Elizabeth Drew - looking at densities and morphology of osteocyte lacunae in medieval human femur, has just been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology! I remember really vividly when, a couple of years ago, Elizabeth arranged a meeting with me to chat about a possibility of her conducting a small research project while she was completing her Bachelor of Medical Science. She got introduced to bioarchaeology when taking one of my courses, and said she was interested in research bone cells. So we ended up designing a small project aim of which was to test whether densities and morphology of osteocyte lacunae change with the anatomical location of the midshaft femur, framing the question in the context of behaviour/biomechanics. Seeing as I curate hundreds of Medieval human femur thin sections in our thin section library, we arranged access and permission for Elizabeth to study ten individuals (40 thin sections). She spent months in front of the microscope analysing the slides and images, counting osteocyte lacunae and canaliculi to find that the anterior and lateral aspects of the femur seem to show the highest densities and canaliculi-rich lacunae. I am so happy for the acceptance of this paper, because it's Elizabeth's first first-authored peer-reviewed paper! Out soon:
Drew ER, Mahoney P, Miszkiewicz JJ. Osteocyte lacuno-canalicular microstructure across the midshaft femur in adult males from Medieval England. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology
I love this little cartoon illustrating the 'settling' of an osteoblast! I found it on this cool website 'Life Science Cartoons': https://leifsaul.com/
I am thrilled to have received paper acceptance email this morning from the Co-Editor of the Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. Together with colleagues from the University of Otago and the University of Queensland (UQ), we completed a short case study reconstructing behaviour from bone histology in fragmented human remains excavated from the Marshall Islands. The burial has been dated to 1720 BP making it the oldest burial on the Ebon Atoll. I feel very lucky to have worked on these samples. This was possible thanks to a wonderful collaboration with Professor Marshall Weisler of UQ. While the skeletal remains were largely fragmented, I was able to take some measurements of bone histological structures from the femur, humerus, rib, and radius to assess the level of remodelling intra-skeletally. Our key interpretation in the paper is that this individual was exposed to frequent arm use, which also matches ethnographic observations, as it is possible he had increased bone remodelling in his humerus and radius. This, of course, is just a short paper using one individual, so in the paper we also provide other interpretative alternatives, and remain cautious until further specimens can be examined. Out soon!
Miszkiewicz JJ, Matisoo-Smith L, Weisler M. Behavior and intra-skeletal remodeling in an adult male from 1720 BP Ebon Atoll, Marshall Islands, eastern Micronesia. Journal of Island & Coastal Archaeology