The Field Museum - Gorilla gorilla

Look forward to small photosets of my trip behind the scenes at the Chicago Field Museum in the coming days!  There were so many remarkable things, it’d be rude not to share. 

We came across this specimen in the mammal prep lab waiting to be reunited with the rest of its skeleton, presumably still being processed in their dermestid colony.  It’s the spinal column of a gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) that was donated by the Lincoln Park Zoo once the animal died.  

What is absolutely jaw-droppingly fascinating about this specimen is that the entire spinal column is fused.  All of the vertebrae have grown together to form one continuous, smooth bone, rather than being comprised of multiple moving vertebrae.  There is also a large healing pathology towards the top of the lumbar vertebrae and at the bottom of the thoracic.  An obvious reason for this to have occurred is because this animal had a limited range of movement as it lived in a zoo enclosure for the majority, if not duration of its life.  

It makes me wonder what human skeletons must look like if we continue to live our lives in front of computers, heavily restricting our range of movement day-in and day-out.