About Our Products
The majority of our items are natural products, and availability is subject in part to the whims of nature, as well as the whims of our customers. Skulls, bones and insects vary in size, color and quality - this is part of their charm. We strive to describe our items accurately, but individual variability must be taken into account.
Real Human Bones
It is perfectly legal to possess and to sell Real Human Bones in the United States. One of the main sources of confusion on this issue is that prior to 1987, the majority of human bones for sale here and in other countries were prepared in India. In 1987, India stopped its exportation of human bones. Many US news sources phrased it as a ban on the sale of human bones rather than as a ban on exportation from one particular country with no effect on United States laws.
Once India stopped exporting human bones China took over as the main supplier of human bones to the United States. However, just prior to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China too stopped exporting human material. No other country has yet stepped up and material is much more scarce than it once was, but a decent number of bones from India and China still remain in the United States and may be freely sold.
A secondary source of confusion are the myriad of laws relating to archaeological resources. Certain material, such as those from Native Americans covered under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, are illegal to buy or sell and in some cases possess. However, these laws do not apply to most modern human bones from non-Native populations.
In short, there is no law at the U.S. Federal level prohibiting you from having a human bone in your possession. The fact that some people believe there is or believe there should be such a law is irrelevant.
This is not to say that such laws do not exist in other countries, or at the local level. For example, three US states, New York, Georgia & Tennessee, all have independent State Laws prohibiting the import or export of human remains across their state lines. While we work hard to remain current, laws are passed worldwide faster that the human mind can track or comprehend, so you must be responsible to know your local laws before ordering.
We work within the framework of U.S. Federal, California State, and International Treaty Law. Within these jurisdictions, there are no prohibitions on the sale or possession of human bones.
Almost all the skulls and bones for sale in The Bone Room are by-products that would otherwise be thrown away. For example, many of our North American mammal skulls come from commercially trapped animals. Our exotic bird and reptile skulls come from the pet trade. Other skulls and horns come from the activities of game parks in the United States and Africa. We say, why waste this bounty? Rather than throw them out, we encourage the use of these remnants for study, for art, or for the sheer appreciation of natural design.
The insects, on the other hand, are killed and sold through dealers all over the world. Insect collection is a legal and profitable way for third world inhabitants to make a living without destroying habitats. Instead of practicing "slash and burn" farming techniques, or selling rainforest acreage for timber, insects can be "farmed" or collected without fear of decimation. Encouraging the sustainable harvest of insects encourages local governments to preserve the habitats that produces them. Despite their exotic looks, many of these insects are quite common in their home countries, and through proper business practices, will stay abundant.
We don't sell any species on the U. S. Federal or State of California Endangered Species Lists. However, we do have some CITES (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species) listed species. There is much confusion between these two lists. The Federal Endangered Species list is specific to the United States and controls the possession and interstate transportation of threatened and endangered species within the United States. The California list does the same thing for our state.
CITES, on the other hand, is an international agreement that controls the exportation of species identified by their home country as in need of special protection. Because it this applies to international trade only, CITES species that were legally brought into the United States (either pre-act or with permits) are legal to sell within the United States, but not to re-export. In many cases, a species will be on one list but not the other (see the case of elephant ivory, below).
Because CITES is essentially a law governing international trade, many species common in captivity or the pet trade are listed. They are listed because a CITES designation allows countries to enforce export quotas on these native species, either to control trade or encourage captive breeding. Most exotic birds and reptiles commonly seen in the pet trade are CITES classified for this reason.
Many CITES species (particularly insects) are captive-bred or farmed in their home countries as a means of providing income to indigenous populations and for giving an incentive for habitat protection. These specimens are exported with CITES permits that vouch for their legal origin. In addition, The Bone Room only buys from reputable suppliers who follow legal procedure and maintain careful records of their trade in these specimens.
Rest assured that The Bone Room does not participate in or support the illegal trade of threatened and endangered species.
We believe that making these specimens available to you can only encourage an appreciation of the natural world that surrounds us. Many people are astonishingly ignorant of the sheer variety and intricacy of the myriad species that share our world. When visitors come into our store, they often leave with a new appreciation for the strange forms nature takes. We invite your to explore the natural world with us, and to take a little bit of it home with you.
-The Bone Room
-The Bone Room