WKURF Project Spotlight: How Skeletons Work: An Illustrated Tour of the Vertebrates by Steve Huskey

WKU Research Foundation Supported Projects

Below is a project spotlight on a WKU Research Foundation funded project.

Gorgeous high-contrast photographs reveal the eerie beauty of the vertebrate skeleton.

The vertebrate skeleton is one of nature’s most amazing feats. Composed of cartilage and bone, it forms the supportive structure for the remaining aspects of our anatomy. Stripped of skin, we can see the body’s fascinating underlying architecture.

In this one-of-a-kind book, biologist and skeletal reconstructionist Steve Huskey lays bare the vertebrate skeleton, providing a guided tour of the nuanced differences among the many featured vertebrate species. Using his own skeletal preparations, which the author has spent decades assembling, Huskey helps us understand why animals live the way they do. We see in the venomous snake the jaw and fang structures that allow it to both kill and consume whole its prey. The eastern mole is shown to be built like a weightlifter, coupled with an earth-mover, as Huskey discusses its habit of “swimming through soil.” The odd-looking trumpetfish is not built for music, but for suction, with a skull that expands to vacuum in its prey.

Each page of How Skeletons Work reveals not only the elegance of each skeleton, but also the natural history story that the skeleton tells. Come along; let’s take a voyage through the boneyard.

“Steve Huskey feeds our fascination with the vast diversity of animals through beautiful photographs of skeletons he meticulously prepared. Accompanied by informative and up-to-date descriptions of the animals and their lives, this book reveals the remarkable evolutionary variety in animal body plans.” –George V. Lauder, Harvard University

Steve Huskey is an associate professor of biology at Western Kentucky University. Dr. Huskey’s skeletons are on display in many venues, including the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium.