Research Databases

The Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification is home to a number of interesting and rare skeletal and anatomical collections which provide excellent opportunities for both teaching and research activities. The paucity of some of the material contained within these collections provides a unique opportunity for University of Dundee staff and students as well as external visitors to gain and advanced understanding of anatomical form and function.

Scheuer Collection

The Scheuer Collection is believed to be the only active repository for juvenile skeletal remains held anywhere in the world. It consists of the remains of over 100 subadult individuals, collected from archaeological and historical anatomical sources. Although some of the material is of documented identity, the majority has been aged and sexed using the dentition and various other metric and morphological evaluations of isolated bones. The collection is composed of a combination of complete skeletons, partial skeletons and isolated skeletal elements.

The material offers significant opportunities to address areas of education and research into skeletal development that have largely been ignored in the past due to a paucity of material. Currently there are a number of on-going research projects investigating previously neglected areas of skeletal development. These research projects are beginning to produce some very exciting and unexpected results which challenge some established theories on skeletal growth and development. As this is an active repository, the collection continues to grow with the addition of new skeletal elements which are primarily obtained from other anatomy departments who which to curate their juvenile skeletal material in a recognised and dedicated collection. The Scheuer collection has formed the basis of three seminal textbooks on developmental osteology which are regarded as the primary reference resources for the identification of juvenile skeletal remains.

Contact: Dr Craig Cunningham

Skeletal Teaching Collection

The skeletal teaching collection is an extensive assemblage of adult skeletons which has been amassed over a period of several decades. This collection contains many fully articulated skeletons which are primarily used for teaching purposes. Additionally, this collection contains several thousand disarticulated skeletal elements which have been curated into cohorts which represent each bone within the human body. This large sample size provides excellent opportunities for osteological research and indeed a number of interesting research projects are currently being undertaken on this collection. CAHID operates a skeleton exchange policy whereby any individual or group owning a human skeleton can exchange this for a plastic replica. This ensures that the human material is appropriately curated within Licenced premises and that our skeletal collections are being continually expanded with the addition of rare skeletal material.

Contact: Dr Craig Cunningham

Comparative Skeletal Collection

The comparative skeletal collection is another of CAHID’s active skeletal repositories which is being continually expanded. This collection comprises an eclectic mix of interesting species ranging from African big game specimens through to a host of UK domestic specimens. This collection is primarily used for teaching purposes but also provides opportunities for comparative osteological research. The collection is often used by consultants on the virtual anthropology communication service (VACS) when making a human/non-human determination for UK police forces. Many of the specimens in this collection have been prepared within the Centre using our Dermestid beetle colonies which quickly remove soft tissues leaving behind bones which are perfectly preserved. The Centre has agreements with many local wildlife and animal reserves which allows the attainment of deceased specimens for addition to the collection.

Contact: Miss Seaneen Tennent

Helmer Skull Collection

The Helmer Collection is a unique resource comprising twelve skulls which have accompanying antemortem facial photographs. This collection is a key research resource for facial anthropologists and has facilitated extensive research in the field of facial reconstruction. This resource is very rare and provides unparalleled opportunities for testing emerging techniques associated with the prediction of facial morphology.

Contact: Professor Caroline Wilkinson

Anatomical Specimens Collection

CAHID has an excellent and varied collection of anatomical specimens, many of which are displayed in our dedicated museum facilities. The collection contains several potted specimens which display a combination of normal and pathological anatomy. Additionally, the collection includes a large number of professionally prepared prosections which demonstrate the detail of specific anatomical regions. We have prosections which illustrate every part of the human body. These specimens are constantly being updated and renewed to provide students with an optimal learning resource. Specimens are prepared using specialist techniques including our in-house plastination facility. Any of our licenced teachers of anatomy can be approached for further information on CAHID’s anatomical specimen collection.

Contact: Professor Roger Soames