“I’ve been a teacher all my life, and I think I might as well be a teacher after I’m dead,” Grover Krantz told the Smithsonian’s anthropology collections manager David Hunt as they negotiated Krantz’s proposed donation of his skeleton to the Smithsonian’s natural history museum. As a physical anthropologist specializing in hominoid evolution, Krantz gleaned his understanding and ideas by studying the bones of apes and humans. Following his death, his own bones would become available for study.
Odds were, however, that his bones would remain in a drawer, alongside the bones of his three Irish wolfhounds, which he had already donated, waiting for whatever forensic or osteological questions might be answered through their examination.
But along came a proposal for a major exhibit, “Written in Bone,” based on work by forensic anthropologist Doug Owsley and focusing on a study of Colonial-era grave sites in the Chesapeake region. Owsley proposed including Krantz, and Clyde, his favorite wolfhound, as a finale to the exhibit. Museum taxidermist Paul Rhymer agreed to try and put Krantz’s and Clyde’s skeletons together, modeling them after a photograph of Krantz and his dog.
The effectiveness of Rhymer’s effort, which captures the warmth of the scientist and dog’s relationship in life, can be seen in the young faces in the photograph.
Krantz arrived at Washington State University in 1968 and retired in 1998. He was widely regarded for his work in human evolution and, more controversially, for his study of Sasquatch.
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“Written in Bone”: Smithsonian Institute’s exhibit