Can I keep my skull?

What can I do now, so that after I die, my family can keep my skull, use it as a candy dish, hang it on the door on halloween, etc?

Are there funeral homes that’ll do this for me? Is it legally allowed?

I don’t know how things are in the wild and untamed land of Canada, but around these parts is is flatly illegal to have human remains in private possession unless you’re involved in the medical or “death” industries. This doesn’t apply to cremated ashes, but bones, organs, or any other indentifiable pieces are out. There are some other weird exceptions here and there, but a regular private citizen can forget about it.

I can’t imagine things would be different up there, but with state-run healthcare, a $20 bill (U.S. currency, of course) in the right hand may get you a special permit. :smiley:

Well, part of the reason that I ask is that I have a skeleton that is missing the skull and left foot. A local high school had it for teaching purposes, but the skull was stolen. They decided to get rid of the rest of it, and I offered to take it off their hands. Now, I just want to complete the set.

Anyway, i put my whole life into making this thing. Shouldn’t I get to do with it what I want? What gives the government the right to tell me what I can and can’t do with it?

I’m with you man, it’s your bones, so you should get to do what you want with them, right?

However, Canada’s laws may indeed by laxer in that area. Around here, it would be pretty much unthinkable for a mere high school to have an actual skeleton (it’s that law thing again). MAYBE a college, but they’d probably get a plastic replica instead. If a Canadian high school had a real skeleton, and they just GAVE it to you, there may be hope! A biology teacher might be able to point you in the right direction to get a definite answer, and you may even be able to get a skull from a medical supply company and complete your set while you’re still alive.

Those damn Puritans have been dead for 400 years and they still won’t let us have any fun.

Are you sure it’s illegal in the US?

My mother occasionally gets a medical supply catalog that has real human skeletons listed, and I doubt they would be able to do that if it was illegal. They are very expensive though, so you’d probably be better off buying a plastic replica. A real human skeleton ran more than $3000 IIRC, with just a skull being around $300.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the catalog.

It IS legal to own human remains in the USA provided they are not Native American remains.

There was a store in San Francisco called something like “Sticks and Stones and Skin and Bones,” which sold all manner of items made from animal matter of various sorts, as well as seeds, minerals, etc. (The dried bat earrings were very popular around Halloween.) I am pretty certain that they had a couple of human skulls on display and for sale. They weren’t identified by name, but were labelled as being from somewhere outside the U.S. (China or India, I think.) This was about 10 or 15 years ago.

Is this a whoosh? :confused:

If not, why not Native American remains?

Well, I’m writing from PA, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all that the laws vary from state to state. The rules may be different regarding corpses depending on the state. I found a nice link here:

By jove, it appears you can get assorted human remains from a medical catalog, but I don’t know if they’ll ship everywhere.

The OP did want to keep his own skull, though, and that I’m sure will cause a legal wrangle in PA, anyway. I investigated that myself a few years ago, and it appears that the authorities frown on the amateur collection of remains.

I’ll say it again: Damn Puritans! :mad:

No, it’s not a whoosh. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act “assigns ownership and control of Native American cultural items, human remains, and associated funerary objects to Native Americans.”

Not sure how it all came about, though. Maybe to protect the scavenging of burial mounds or maybe to prevent white men from keeping “trophies”.
Check out this site for all your bone shopping needs.

It’s legal, but durned if I know how you arrange it.

When Del Close, mentor to Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe, died a while back, he had it written into his will that his skull was to be handed over to a local theatre group… where it would be used to play the role of Yorick in “Hamlet.”

It was done. And to this day, when they do Shakespeare revivals, in the program books, among the other roles and names, you can see:

“Yorick”… Del Close.

It’s legal to buy human remains in California, at least. Just go to “The Bone Room,” in Berkeley. You can walk right in and buy human bones. They don’t have an online order system, but it doesn’t seem to be for legal reasons. You can, however, order bones through the mail.

What I want to know is…where do they find all the skulls with perfect teeth? :eek: :smiley:

“You can leave your hat on.” --Randy Newman

They do have an ebay store…

Well I don’t want to name names or anything, and you didn’t hear it from me, and if anyone asks I don’t know you…but…

I know someone who has one (no- it’s not attached to a body, I swear), which was purchased on the street in Kathmandu (where there is a large Tibetan community, the Tibetan Buddhists use human bones for some of their religious ritual objects, for what that’s worth.)

I also happen to know it was less than $200. US.

Of course there is the pesky issue of a return flight to Kathmandu but hey, it’s sure to be more interesting than a little on line shopping!


Well, that is promising. I guess I need to talk to a lawyer (involuntary shudder). Maybe i’ll try and arrange my death so that I collapse into the local vet college’s bug box the night before a long weekend.

As a closet philosopher/ethicist (There was quite a round of shock when I ended up picking up a degree in it along the way), I feel obligated to point out that in these circumstances, it’s not your skull for you to do with as you wish. You would be dead, and dead people don’t have possessions, rights, etc.

I mention this because it’s often forgotten, but may make some quirks of estate law more comprehensible. Inheritance and wills are largelyt social conventions. The intent of the framer is only a guide -albeit a strong one- and cannot override the rights of the living (heirs or percieved societal interests)

This may seem unremarkable to you now --it’s just common sense-- but informal (and inaccurate) notions about inheritance worm into our thoughts and language so early that this simple fact (“the dead don’t have rights”) can lead to some serious ‘aha!’ moments over the years. I live for ‘aha!’ moments.

Mr.Fantsy Pants do you know that they want to keep our skull as a posession or is your ego rearing it’s ugly head? <<<hlanelee grins>>>

KP, this brings to mind some questions…

Who owns my skull after I die? Do I own it now? Can I leave it to someone in my will?

And on a unrelated tangent, if the dead don’t have rights, does that mean they don’t have the right not to be baptized as a mormon posthumously?

“Mr. Wegg, if you was brought here loose in a bag to be articulated, I’d name your smallest bones blindfold equally with your largest, as fast as I could pick 'em out, and I’d sort 'em all, and sort your wertebrae, in a manner that would equally surprise and charm you.”

“Well, that ain’t a state of things to be low about.”

–From Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens