Message Number: YG3214 | New FHL Archives Search
From: RRC
Date: 2001-05-03 20:58:00 UTC
Subject: Re: charts

Sandra Johns wrote:

>Has there ever been charts made for the ferret skeletal systems
>and a chart of there muscles? I would be really interested in
>seeing these charts, if anyone would know if there is any of where
>i could purchase them.

The best current reference is the Master's thesis by Nguyen Quoc An 1985
"The Viscera of the Ferret (Mustela putorius furo)." 76 pp., Master
thesis, Cornell University, NY. An also wrote a chapter on ferret
anatomy for Fox's 1988 edition of "Biology and Diseases of the Ferret."
Second best is from Fox's book: James G. Fox (editor) 1998 "Biology and
Diseases of the Ferret, 2nd edition." 568 pp., Williams & Wilkins; Baltimore.

The first reference is almost impossible to obtain for non-academics
(unless you can physically visit Cornell and go to the library and copy
it), but Fox's books are readily available for most people.
Unfortunately, while the Fox reference does discuss the bones and
muscles, it is rather brief, and does not show the bones in detail.

An alternative is to wait for my detailed skeletal analysis of the
ferret, which is nearly complete but will probably take up to a year or
more to get through the jury system required prior to publication in
science journals. Please don't ask to see the work prior to publication;
it constitutes intellectual property, which to an academic is job
security. I'm sure you have heard the phrase, "publish or perish." More
accurately, it should be "publish a lot while a graduate student or
never get a job." You will have to wait like everyone else.

Alternatively, you can cheat. Most college libraries have dissection
handbooks on American mink (Mustela vison). Included in these handbooks
are fair to moderately detailed analyses of the musculoskeletal system,
including a lot of line drawings of the bones and muscles. I recommend:

David Klingener 1979 "Laboratory Anatomy of the Mink." Wm. C. Brown Co.
Publishers; Dubuque, Iowa.

This is a very common laboratory handbook, and is easily picked up at
old book stores for less than $10. Try []; they offer a
fantastic used book search engine and reasonable prices. I use them all
the time.

The thing is, the anatomy of the American mink and the domesticated
ferret is not identical, BUT, the musculoskeletal system is extremely
similar. I've done a major study on the skeletons of both the ferret and
the mink, and probably know the osteology as well or better than anyone
else in the country, and it is very difficult for me to tell the
difference between some of the bones. Some are indistinguishable,
including the ribs (os costae), some of the wrist (carpal) and ankle
(tarsal) bones, most of the hand bones (metacarpal) and foot bones
(metatarsal), some back and tail bones (vertebrae), the bones of the
hyoid (os hyoideum) and sternum (sternibrae), and the knee caps
(patella). Other require the use of mathematical formulae to separate
them, such as the heel bone (calcaneus), the tiny little pivoting bone
at the base of the tibia called the astragalus (or the talus in humans),
and the bones of the forearm (radius and ulna). Significantly different
are the skull and dentition, some of the long bones (femur, humerus,
tibia) and pelvis (os coxae), and baculum (os penis), so while the
diagrams for the mink are different, they will give you a good idea of
what they sort of look like, and they DO look alike.

There are quite a number of bits and pieces you can get if you spend a
lot of time in university libraries, and have access to journals such as
the Journal of Anatomy, J. of Morphology, several vet journals, and some
zoological journals. But like I said, just bits and pieces and not very
useful unless you are doing an in-depth analysis of the ferret skeleton,
such as I am in the process of doing.

I hope this helps.

Bob C