So just to outline what exactly we do (and the methods are the same as in the paper below). When we pull the skull out of its box we firt find the skull on our data sheets, as the ID method has changed over the years and we need to know whose skull we are about to pour beads into. Then we measure its length using a large set of callipers, so that an idea of brain size to head size may be gained for the individuals. Then we clean the skull..... some of these skulls have been sitting around for over 30 years and so don't have much in the except a few spiders webs, but some are full of dessicated brain, spiders eggs, spiders webs and dried skin. So much pushing, prodding and scraping ensues. Next we fill all of the wholes in the brain case up cotton wool, and often the nose cavity as well. At the start this seemed daunting but we are now pretty au fait with skulls and do this speed and precision. Then we poor 2mm glass beads into the skull, shaking to achieve an even filling, up to our specified point (see paper for exact details). Then we pour it all out into a measuring cylinder and have our volume, simples! Except for those annoying 2 beads that are rattling in the skull and take another two minutes to extract. But thanks to Stuff You Missed in History Class and Lars Brownworths Byzantium podcasts this fairly monotonous task goes swiftly and we learn very random stuff, e.g. about our favourite female adventuress Freya Stark.
Logan & Clutton-Brock (2013) Validating methods for estimating endocranial volume in individual red deer (Cervus elaphus)
So here are some pics of us and the skulls: