Skulls Unlimited International, Inc. is a commercial supplier of osteological specimens located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Skulls Unlimited provides a skull cleaning service, using dermestid beetles to strip the flesh from skulls and skeletons. The bones are later whitened using hydrogen peroxide. Skulls Unlimited processes approximately 25,000 skull specimens per year.
In the summer of 1986, Jay Villemarette found himself out of work after being laid off from his auto body job and started considering the possibility of working full-time with skulls. In June of that year he established Skulls Unlimited International. His fascination with skulls and bones began when he was seven years old, after he found a dog skull in the woods near his home. That interest, along with encouragement from his father, led Villemarette to begin collecting other animal skulls. After graduating from high school, he collected and sold skulls in his spare time while working as an auto body technician. As sales grew, Villemarette and his wife Kim began to clean skulls in their kitchen.
After relocating to a retail location for his business in 1992, Villemarette was able to employ his first full-time employees Skulls Unlimited remained at their South Shields address until June 2000, when they expanded into a custom built facility in Oklahoma City.
Over the years this business has been featured in several television programs including;
- Taboo; "Living with the Dead" Season 8, Episode 5. Air Date: June 17, 2012
- Auction Kings; "Les Paul Guitar/Giant Bat" Season 3, Episode 12. Air Date: Jun.14, 2012
- Modern Marvels; "Built by Hand" Season 18, Episode 2. Air Date: Oct. 10, 2011
- Skeleton, Inc. Season 1, Episode 1 (Pilot). Air Date: Sept. 18, 2011
- Weird, True and Freaky; "Eternally Stuffed" Season 3, Episode 12. Air Date: Nov. 23, 2010
- Dirty Jobs; "Skull Cleaner" Season 2, Episode 23. Air Date: July 11, 2006
- MSNBC Investigates; "Shades of Obsession" Season 1, Episode 115. Air Date: April 17, 2001
- Ripley's Believe It or Not! Season 2, Episode 6. Air Date: Feb. 14, 2001
In 2004, Skulls Unlimited was invited to participate in the Discovery Channel's Young Scientists Challenge in Washington D.C. This televised event was hosted by the Mythbusters, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.
Museum of Osteology
In 2004, Skulls Unlimited started construction on a new 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) building that now houses Skulls Unlimited's corporate offices and The Museum of Osteology. The museum opened to the public on October 1, 2010 and exhibits over 300 real skeletons and over 400 real skulls, focusing on the form and function of the skeletal system. On May 1, 2015, Skulls Unlimited opened a second museum, Skeletons: Animals Unveiled, in Orlando, FL., which displays over 400 real skeletons.
- Elder, Robert K. "In Bone business, skulls rate head and shoulders above skeletons". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- "Where 'how greasy a human is' is part of the job". Associated Press. October 30, 2006. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- Raymond, Jeff. "Skeleton Crew". The Oklahoman. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- Urstadt, Brian (July 2006). "I'm Going to Rib-cage World". www.outsideonline.com. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- "Bone Collector". The Oklahoma Gazette. October 25, 2006. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- Staff Writer (April 2, 2007). "Life as a skull cleaner is a messy job". Reuters. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- MaxFun Intern (23 January 2013). "Judge John Hodgman Episode 94: Bleached and Mounted Bones of Contention". Maximum Fun. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
- Brus, Brian (May 27, 2009). "Skull Junkie Finds Solid Future in Skeleton Frontier". The Journal Record. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- uncredited (May 12, 2015). "Skeleton museum now open at I-Drive 360". Attractions Magazine.
- Official site
- Entrepreneur.com Want to be disgustingly happy? Start a disgusting business.
- MyBusinessMag.com Uncommon Enterprise; Bare-Bones Operation