Beneath the feathers how bones reveal the beauty of bird anatomy

Thought-provoking illustrations showing how the bones of over 200 species of bird are constructed will be shown at the University as part of a new publication by artist and educator Katrina van Grouw between 12 – 1pm in the Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 1 on Thursday 12 February.

The Unfeathered Bird – a book twenty five years in the making - contains 385 illustrations and 200 different species of bird. Virtually all the complete skeletons were prepared and reconstructed at home from specimens donated from zoos, wildlife hospitals and conservation charities.

During the free public talk Katrina will explain her aims and inspirations, share her insights about birds beneath their feathers, and relate how her home was turned upside down as more and more specimens joined the queue.

Dr Richard Thomas from the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, whose research focuses on the analysis and interpretation of animal bones from archaeological sites as a window on past human-animal relations said: “It is all too easy to take for granted the birds that we see on a daily basis. By taking the birds apart, figuratively and literally, we can learn much about the processes of evolution and adaptation and also, in the case of domesticated birds, the deliberate manipulation by people for aesthetic or practical purposes.

“I am hoping that the audience will share in, and be inspired by, the beauty of bird anatomy and evolutionary adaptations. The talk will also highlight the importance of thinking across disciplinary boundaries and its associated rewards.”

The lecture is the latest Bone Laboratory seminar organised within the School of Archaeology and Ancient History. The Bone Laboratory houses a strong research community that includes academic staff, post-doctoral and doctoral scholars, an artist in residence, and many students undertaking undergraduate and Master’s dissertations, some of whom are studying by Distance Learning.

Those wishing to attend the lecture should notify the Bone Laboratory through its Facebook page or contact Dr Richard Thomas at