Wednesday, February 29, 2012


The Museo de las Momias in Guanajuato, Mexico, features a 56-body collection of incredibly well-preserved mummies. Most of the mummies date to around 1833, when they were "accidentally" interred during an outbreak of disease, most likely cholera. The collection has captivated artists and writers, including Werner Herzog and Ray Bradbury. The latter wrote of his visit, "The experience so wounded and terrified me, I could hardly wait to flee Mexico. I had nightmares about dying and having to remain in the halls of the dead with those propped and wired bodies. In order to purge my terror, instantly, I wrote 'The Next in Line.' One of the few times that an experience yielded results almost on the spot."


Friday, February 24, 2012


Cleveland's own Derf Backderf has penned a new graphic novel which is certain to draw the interest of those fascinated by psychology and serial killers alike. My Friend Dahmer reflects upon Derf's own interactions with an adolescent Jeffrey Dahmer, the latter's growing pains, and the horrific consequences of human frailty. 

"MY FRIEND DAHMER is the haunting, new graphic novel by Derf Backderf, an award-winning cartoonist and comix creator. In these pages, Backderf tries to make sense of the iconic monster who he shared the same school hallways, cafeterias, libraries, and compulsive car rides. What emerges is a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling helplessly against the ghastly urges bubbling up from the deep recesses of his psyche. The Dahmer recounted here, universally regarded as an inhuman monster by the rest of the world, is a lonely oddball who, in reality, is all too human. A shy kid who is sucked inexorably into madness while the adults in his life fail to notice. 
 We all know what Dahmer did, but in MY FRIEND DAHMER, Backderf provides, from his unique vantage point, profound (and at times, even strangely comic) insight into how, and more importantly, why Jeffrey Dahmer transformed from a high school nerd into a depraved fiend as notorious as Jack the Ripper. 

In MY FRIEND DAHMER, Derf comes as close as anyone yet has to explaining the seemingly unexplainable phenomenon of one Jeffrey Dahmer, Revere High School, Class of 1978."

You can pre-order a copy HERE.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Promising research now shows that DNA Methylation of human saliva can be utilized to predict a person's age with a modest degree of accuracy. No doubt the technique will improve with refinement and ongoing technological advances. Inferential methods like this are invaluable, because they allow forensic investigators to build a suspect's profile without having to rely on database matches (as is the case with fingerprints, DNA, etc.).

Read a summary of the research here:

Then check out the genuine research publication on PLoS ONE:

From the moment of conception, we begin to age. A decay of cellular structures, gene regulation, and DNA sequence ages cells and organisms. DNA methylation patterns change with increasing age and contribute to age related disease. Here we identify 88 sites in or near 80 genes for which the degree of cytosine methylation is significantly correlated with age in saliva of 34 male identical twin pairs between 21 and 55 years of age. Furthermore, we validated sites in the promoters of three genes and replicated our results in a general population sample of 31 males and 29 females between 18 and 70 years of age. The methylation of three sites—in the promoters of the EDARADD, TOM1L1, and NPTX2 genes—is linear with age over a range of five decades. Using just two cytosines from these loci, we built a regression model that explained 73% of the variance in age, and is able to predict the age of an individual with an average accuracy of 5.2 years. In forensic science, such a model could estimate the age of a person, based on a biological sample alone. Furthermore, a measurement of relevant sites in the genome could be a tool in routine medical screening to predict the risk of age-related diseases and to tailor interventions based on the epigenetic bio-age instead of the chronological age.


Visitors to Flesh and Bones will no doubt have noticed that the author has been on lengthy hiatus; Alas, life waits for no man. Pending graduation and a fairly easy final semester now leave me with some much-appreciated spare time, and new posts will be arriving in short order. 

I'll be simultaneously authoring my other latest blogging endeavor, Olio / Etcetera, and I encourage anyone interested to check it out and subscribe. The blog is an eclectic collection of my researches and clippings, mental blurbs, book excerpts, academic work, essays, and photography. The underlying theme, if any, is "man the animal." Special emphasis will be placed on history, anthropology and language systems, but any subject is fair game. Enjoy, and thank you for your interest!