Paleobiologist Victoria Herridge stumbled upon this ridiculous photo while conducting a Google image search for an elephant skull. "I am dying," she later tweeted. "This is both depressing & incredibly funny."
These photos comes via the website for "BJ Winslow Prop Rentals and Fabrication," a whimsically macabre prop shop in Sun Valley, CA, that hews more to the Mütter Museum's brand of dark and weird than, say, the tacky atmosphere of your local strip mall's Halloween-supply store.
But so in addition to all the prop heads, severed limbs, jarred sheep-hearts and equine-grade syringes, BJ Winslow's online storefront also happens to feature a fair number of skull- and skeleton-replicas, which isn't really all that weird, given the rest of the shop's wares, except for the fact that photos of these replicas frequently contain, unaccountably, sexily dressed and/or heavy-lidded women.
Another layer of ridiculousness: the replicas are at times misidentified – e.g., this "cave bear" skeleton that Ross Barnett, an expert in Pleistocene-era megafauna, says is most definitely not a cave bear skeleton:
The whole thing is... well... it's weird. Apparently, it's also kind of a thing. Sez Barnett:
Same goes for dinosaur photos, evidently:
They remind me of Don Glut photos that used to plague image search for dinosaurs @ToriHerridge except Glut's models were more scantily clad— Tommy Leung (@The_Episiarch) September 23, 2013
Those interested can click through at their own sexy peril.
So what do we make of this? Is this just yet another example of how sex is used to sell just about anything these days, or is there something inherently alluring about ancient skeletons? Is this some shade of geek-kink that we were previously unaware of, or is it just some variation on the human-remains-oriented paraphilia that we've reported on in the past?