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[Perspectives] Revealing the secrets of the dead

Human skeletons have played a fundamental role in medical training for centuries, with individual bones and articulated skeletons routinely used to convey the form and function of the musculoskeletal system to knowledge-hungry students. The process of siding a lone radius, or identifying the scalene tubercle on the first rib will be familiar to everyone who has been through, or teaches in, anatomy laboratories in medical schools. However, many of us are guilty of seeing these bones in impersonal isolation, shorn of the rich personal, cultural, and medical history associated with the individual from whom they came.