Four facts: I am attracted to activities that many people would consider tedious. I love bones. August was too hot to enjoy being outside. Some friend or foe, I don’t remember who, sent me this.

I accepted the challenge.

As puzzle pros do, I started with the border pieces, each having a black margin and a straight edge. I thought this part would be easy.

But some of the pieces were so fiendishly similar to one another that the left border was longer than the right for several unhappy hours.

The yardstick and the closest possible scrutiny aided getting the vertical borders equal–25 pieces across, 40 pieces up and down, 1000 in total, 21″ x 28″. I used the muffin tray to sort pieces when I thought I could identify pieces’ anatomical region or read the small print on the labels.

The central figure was the easiest because it was outlined in black and had the fewest pieces.

Reading glasses, a magnifying lens, and Jazzy helped reduce frustration.

Once the images and labels were in place, 88 entirely blank pieces remained.

A baking sheet allowed me to scrutinize these final pieces in concert, first from one angle and then another.


What did I (re)learn by assembling the puzzle?

Wrisberg’s ligament is in the knee. The nuchal ligament is continuous with the supraspinus ligament. (I had to google those facts in order to place those pieces properly.)

When a piece includes part or all of the term epicondyle, it could be pointing to any of the 7 knee images or 4 elbow images.

My satisfaction was not greatly diminished when I discovered that one piece was missing, even after searching the vacuum cleaner bag. (For the sake of the above image, I improvised the missing piece.)

What have I learned subsequently?

The puzzle is derived from a wall chart drawn by a Peter Bachin in 1947. The wall charts are available at Amazon in sizes as big as 42″ x 62″, which would be large enough to read the labels without magnification.

Bachin also drew a poster of the muscular system, which for the sake of our dining room d├ęcor and my sleep schedule, is not available in puzzle form.

Addendum January 2023: Frank and Susan Grispino, both hand therapists and friends of mine, expressed interest in the puzzle after I blogged about it, so I completely disassembled the puzzle and sent it to them. Along with their computer-science-major son, they recently completed the puzzle and offer these tips to anybody equally masochistic. 1. The puzzle pieces are wider than they are tall, so there are only two, rather than four, possible orientations. 2. Knowledge of skeletal anatomy helps but takes backseat to personalities that are stubborn, task-oriented, and competitive. (Apparently all three Grispinos qualify here.) 3. Assemble the border pieces first. 4. Sort identifiable pieces by anatomical region. 5. Use a lighted magnifying class or cell phone to identify the nearly microscopic text on some of the pieces. 6. Look for similar lines and colors on multiple pieces. 7. Save the entirely unmarked pieces until the end. 8. “If you are on a roll, keep going. If you are experiencing puzzle block, take a break.”

Who’s next to accept the challenge? Contact

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