Gross anatomy

From time to time, when sorting though boxes and folders of personal papers and office records, certain things will jump out at you as being out of place or not part of the original intention of the creator. Often times this addition to a collection is an unwanted biological guest like bugs or spiders (sometimes living but mostly dead), mold or mildew (usually dormant but sometimes active), and once I even saw the skeletal remains of a mouse (definitely an unintentional addition).

However, working with collections that focus on the health sciences, stumbling across a biological specimen is usually no accident at all. I’ve found random, unlabeled paraffin wax pathology samples as well as a wax cast of the inner ear (harvested post-mortem).

Today was a new anatomical sample in the archives. Inside this miniature cigar box were nearly two dozen envelopes containing extracted adult human teeth from the 1950s.


Most had their full roots and represented all types of molars, bicuspids, and incisors.


It was as if some contemptuous tooth fairy had stashed them away.