Ray Bandar, a retired biologist from San Francisco, has spent the last 50 years collecting thousands of animal bones. He estimates he has 7,000 skulls, 200 pelvises and countless other limbs from animals he mostly found and cleaned himself.
“I enjoy removing the flesh from the skull and disarticulating the jaws,” Bandar recently said in an interview for National Geographic’s Taboo series. “I see nothing gross about this, whether it’s a fresh animal or a badly decomposed animal, makes no difference to me.” The native San Franciscan grew up in the Richmond District and started collecting different animal specimens in junior high. That’s when he got the nickname “Reptile Ray”. As time passed, his passion for collecting and cleaning dead animals grew, and he is now the proud owner of a collection of over 7,000 skulls, including 2,600 from California marine mammals. Over the years, his own discoveries have been supplemented from local zoos, museums, taxidermists, roadkill, and trips to Australia, Africa and Mexico. His house is like no other on Earth – every room is virtually crammed with bones and skulls from animals Ray decapitated himself, but he still roams the beaches of Northern California looking for new and exciting additions to his museum home.