AskDefine | Define osteology

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. the scientific study of the morphology and pathology of bones
  2. the bone structure of a particular individual, or species

See also

Extensive Definition

Osteology is the scientific study of bones. A subdiscipline of anthropology and archeology, osteology is a detailed study of the structure of bones, skeletal elements, teeth, morphology, function, disease, pathology, the process of ossification (from cartilaginous molds), the resistance and hardness of bones (biophysics), etc. Often used by scientists with identification of human remains with regard to age, death, sex, growth, and development in a biocultural context.


A typical analysis will include:
  • an inventory of the skeletal elements present
  • a dental inventory
  • aging data, based upon epiphyseal fusion, dental eruption and tooth wear
  • sexing data, based upon bone morphology
  • stature and other metric data
  • ancestry
  • non-metric traits
  • pathology and/or cultural modifications
  • taphonomy, including weathering, gnawing, butchery, burning and related processes...


Osteological approaches are frequently applied to investigations in disciplines such as forensic science, physical anthropology and archaeology, and has a place in research on topics including:


  • Bass, W M. 2005. Human Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Manual. 5th Edition. Columbia: Missouri Archaeological Society.
  • Buikstra, J. E and Ubelaker, D. H. (eds.) 1994. Standards for Data Collection from Human Skeletal Remains. Arkansas Archeological Survey Research Series No. 44.
  • Cox, M and Mays, S. (eds.) 2000. Human Osteology in Archaeology and Forensic Science. London: Greenwich Medical Media.

External links

osteology in German: Osteologie
osteology in Spanish: Osteología
osteology in French: Ostéologie
osteology in Japanese: 骨学
osteology in Norwegian: Osteologi
osteology in Pushto: هډتړپوهنه
osteology in Polish: Osteologia
osteology in Portuguese: Osteologia
osteology in Slovak: Osteológia
osteology in Swedish: Osteologi
osteology in Turkish: Kemikbilim
osteology in Ukrainian: Остеологія
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