Brushing Rodent Teeth

Post by Kristin Leonard, PSU undergraduate and Archaeology Lab Intern

Rodent mandible (Photo by Kristin Leonard)

Rodent mandible (Photo by Kristin Leonard)

Every term that I have spent in Dr. Anderson’s lab has been a new learning experience. While in terms past I have sorted bulk samples, conducted basic ceramic analysis, and tagged and catalogued artifacts, this term I have mostly been doing faunal cleaning and basic sorting. What this basically means is that I have been brushing off dirt off of animal bones, and then sorting the bones based on the type of bone (element) and the size of the animal (e.g. large mammal). The tiny bone that I am holding in the picture above is half of a rodent mandible. Although most of the teeth and mandibles I have been cleaning are from dogs and seals, I chose to take a picture of this one because the teeth are so distinct. My favorite elements to clean are mandibles, maxillas, and teeth because cleaning them with the laboratory toothbrushes seems natural but also ironic… Not only do I clean my own teeth with a toothbrush, but I also get to clean 1,000 year old mammals’ teeth with a toothbrush!

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