Exploded human skull in a bell-jar

Spotted today in the remarkable, newly renovated upstairs gallery at the (amazing, wonderful) Evolution Store in Soho, NYC: this exploded human skull, in a bell-jar. I covet this -- I'd settle for a replica, too. Anyone with a 3D printer want to knock one up and stick it on Etsy?

Exploded Skull photos

The Evolution Store


  1. It’s called a Beauchene skull. We use it to teach the bones of the skull in anatomy and physiology classes. You may be able to find good replica skulls from http://www.carolina.com or http://www.wardsci.com (two biology supply houses that I order from). Real skulls are incredibly expensive and only shipped to academic institutions. They also sell fake “alien” skulls these days for comparative anatomy classes. They look really cool.

  2. That’s cool, but the mention of “3D printers” just makes my brain freeze. Why is it called a printer? If it’s creating an object in three dimensions it would be called a fabricator, not a printer.

    1. Because the machines that are used to make these 3D objects are, in fact, printers. If you know how a laser printer, or even ink printer works, then you have a good idea of how a 3D one works. One of the major differences is the use of different materials, though the overall technique is similar.

      They even have printers that use biological/genetic material instead of ink. Their use is slowly becoming more prominent in research labs these days.

  3. It’s called a “Beauchene” mount. I’ve seen them for sale at boneroom.com – expect to pay thousands of dollars, though. I expect a cast would be cheaper, but I haven’t found one yet. (and I’d like to, too!)

  4. You can purchase casts of the beauchene/exploded skull from most anatomical model vendors

    http://www.buyamag.com/skull_model.php for instance

    Though from the anatomy teacher perspective the disarticulated skulls are way more fun/useful. You could save 700 bucks and design your own ‘explosion’ with one of those.

  5. OK, maybe I’m just dumb or didn’t take too many science classes, but what’s an exploded skull? I’m going to assume that’s not literal.

  6. The best part about Beauchene skulls is how they’re made. The sutures of a skull– where the individual bones join– are too tightly knit to pull apart without breaking the bones. So you pour rice in through the auditory foramen (earholes), and drip water on it until the gradual expansion of the rice distends the bones.

    “My head hurts.”
    “How does your head hurt?”
    “Like it’s full of dry rice, and someone is dripping water in my ear.”

  7. Sweet, Evolution finally did it’s upstairs. I rented a Gavial skull from there once. And paid 50 damn dollars for a bumble bee.

  8. I used to know a surgeon who specialised in fixing peoples faces after bad things happened – a lot of what he did involved fitting metal plates. He would take a CT scan of the patient, extract the skull, and then make a skull-model from foam using a 5-axis mill. He used the foam model to check the plates fit properly. Very cool, but somehow also slightly creepy. I never did get a model of my skull..shame…

  9. I want one a lot after I saw this on television in two shows Even a model,but a real skull would be so cool I told my dad and he said if he knew where one was any suggestions So Cool

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