Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Bones of Grover Krantz on Display

"Professor's dying wish granted at Natural History Museum exhibit"

Image borrowed from Washington State Magazine.

... He was standing under spotlights in a huge display case — all 6 feet 3 inches of him except for a few bones missing here and there. His head was thrown back and his mouth was open, as if in a big laugh, and his arms were around one of his favorite dogs.

Here was professor Gordon S. "Grover" Krantz, and all, or almost all, of the phalanges, tarsals, metatarsals and the other 200 or so bones that made up his skeleton. Reassembled with wire, glue and metal.


The skeletons of Krantz and his beloved Irish wolfhound, Clyde, make up the striking display that comes at the end of the museum's current forensic anthropology exhibit, "Written in Bone."

The two are depicted mimicking an old photograph, with the skeleton of Clyde up on his hind legs and Krantz cradling the dog's forelegs in his arms.

They make a startling sight — cleansed of flesh and fur, revealed down to the bones in the dog's tail and the dental implants in Krantz's mouth.

Which is exactly what Krantz wanted.

Read the whole story at

Image borrowed from Caption reads: The skeleton model at the Museum of Natural History was based on a photo of Gordon Krantz, a teacher of the study of bones at Washington State University. "It was an outlandish wish," his wife said recently. But "he wanted his bones someplace. ... He thought he would be a good teaching specimen." Illustrates BONES (category l), by Michael E. Ruane (c) 2009, The Washington Post. Moved Tuesday, April 14, 2009. (MUST CREDIT: Grover Krantz Papers -- National Anthropological Archives.)

Image borrowed from Caption reads: Fifth-graders from Charlotte, N.C., take in the display at "Written in Bone," a forensic anthropology study, at the Museum of Natural History. The skeletons of professor Gordon Krantz and his beloved Irish wolfhound, Clyde, are the realization of Krantz's ultimate wish. Illustrates BONES (category l), by Michael E. Ruane (c) 2009, The Washington Post. Moved Tuesday, April 14, 2009. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Linda Davidson.)

OK, so this post is not about Japan. It is about my former professor. One of the most interesting and challenging classes I took in grad school was Dr. Grover Krantz's course on Physical Anthropology. Cultural anthropologists might sometimes forget that we are doing science. Dr. Krantz lectured on the hard science of evolution, primates, bones, language origins, etc. and showed how these things are all related to modern humans and culture. One of the lessons I remember from Dr. Krantz was his explanation of lumpers and splitters. The former tend to lump things together in broad categories while the latter split things off into detailed categories and subcategories. Dr. Krantz was a lumper but he knew all about the details of the splitters as well.

Dr. Krantz was infamous for his belief in Bigfoot and his desire to shoot one down (to prove its existence perhaps as a modern day surviving giant ape known as Gigantopithecus). Before he retired, he made some of his skulls, bones and footprint casts available. I am proud to have a skull from a northeast Asian Homo erectus and a cast of a supposed Bigfoot footprint found in the Blue Mountains of Oregon in 1988. Here is the top view of the footprint.

That's Dr. Krantz's autograph on the bottom of the cast.

An obituary, with more information about the career of Dr. Krantz, can be found here. And here is an interview with Dr. Krantz that mentions Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson. Apparently Larson, too, was a student of Krantz and many of his cartoons had anthropological themes. Some of the characters seemed to resemble Dr. Krantz as well.

Image borrowed from runningafterantelope's photostream at Flickr.

Special thanks to E.S. in Oregon for the heads up on the bones.


Anonymous said...

Very nice that his wish was finally realized. Interesting fellow.

And that is one HUGE dog!

R. said...

Love the Larson!

Anonymous said...

Glad I had the opportunity to query him about Big Foot before he passed away. Very intelligent Professor !!!

Anonymous said...

i would have loved to have sat down with this man and talked for hrs...