Hand-shined, mass-produced, full of sorrow

Eleanor Konik

Eleanor Konik

Professionally, I teach pre-teens about ancient civilizations. In my downtime, I enjoy combining storytelling with my love of sharing obscure history and science.


I've been all over the place writing things for National Novel Writing Month, with very little rhyme or reason to the stories I've written on any given day. Given that, I was surprised at how often the topic of bones kept coming up.

Quick Facts

  • Archaeologists know what bones were used as tools because bones used regularly as tools develop a polished sheen, unlike leftover detritus from meals.
  • Inuit tattooists use copper or caribou bone needles, followed by a "greased wood sliver" dipped in black pigment, for the "skin-stitching" method of tattooing.
  • Horse bone artifacts from the Turkmenistan region were shaped to resemble female figures, sometimes with dots around the pubic region or nipples to convey an impression of nudity.
  • We can document the use of bone tools by humans as far back as the Early Pleistocene era (aka the Ice Age).
  • Located between the chin and the thyroid cartilage, the hyoid is a horseshoe shaped bone in the throat that helps people talk. It's the only human bone not connected to other bones.

Mass Production

We have evidence of humans mass-producing bone tools as far back as the Paleolithic era. Elephant long bones were systematically broken to make blanks appropriate for shaping tools. The extinction of the Palaeoloxodon, a species of straight-tusked elephants, may have been one of the reasons that the technique was abandoned.

Glow Green

Because of their unique regenerative abilities, exposed neural tubes, and weird heart defects, axolotls are very important to scientific research. To facilitate this, they were cross-bred with albino tiger salamanders so scientists could see their bones better. Scientists also altered their genes so that their bones would glow green under black lights, which also made them easier to study.

This post is for subscribers only

Sign up to read this post and all other free member only posts.
You've successfully subscribed to Eleanor's Iceberg
Great! Next, complete checkout to get full access to all premium content.
Error! Could not sign up. invalid link.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Error! Could not sign in. Please try again.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Error! Stripe checkout failed.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Error! Billing info update failed.