I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

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I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Bernice » Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:55 pm

Greetings all!
I have been very quiet on the forum in the last while, so to remedy that I thought Id share what I have been keeping myself busy with recently... (last year and a half)

I changed from being a lab jockey (mycologist at a forestry focused research institute) to being a biology teacher, and Im LOVING IT! But Im starting from scratch, I have the teachers diploma, but no resources to aid my teaching... This little detour into the insane started when I did a teaching practical at a school for partially sighted and blind learners, it is a little difficult to explain some concepts to kids who cant see the pictures... so to better teach dentition and the differences between carnivores and herbivores I bought sheep offal and cleaned the skull to give tot he kids to handle...
on hearing this my intrepid mom contacted some local farmers asking them to keep an eye out for skulls or remains of animals on their farm lands and plots, following this, a farmer turned up a black backed jackal carcass that had been shot by his neighbor, a not-so-fresh carcass, about a week dead, juicy, oozy and stinking to high heaven! let the games begin!

Step one - 'compost' jackal in horse manure and and 'semels' for 4 months, this is the slightly pastey results...
Compost.jpg


My mom and I in the most gruesome scavenger hunt ever... it didnt smell so good...
Compost 2.jpg
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Bernice » Mon Dec 08, 2014 9:00 pm

Step two - finding and cleaning all the bits! this took 3 toothbrushes, 500ml of dish soap, 2 paint brushes, about a cup of laundry soap, over two months to identify and find all the tiny bones!
but we managed about 80% of the bones on day one...

Us cleaning the days haul of bones
Clean.jpg


The bones found on day one, just scrubbed and cleaned
Bones.jpg
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Happiness is a fat mouse and a warm rock!

Dont fly! 4X4! The noble eagle may soar! but a weasel wont get sucked into a jet intake valve...

Some people are like a slinky spring, they make you smile when you push them down a flight of stairs!
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Bernice » Mon Dec 08, 2014 9:08 pm

Step three - identifying and arranging the bones
This took the most time, I needed a number of weeks to arrange the bones I did have, and identify what I still had to go back to the compost pile and find!
Arrange.jpg


Once most of the bones (95% about) were found, identified and arranged the bleaching could begin!
The bones were bleached with hydrogen peroxide as an acid or regular bleach would destroy the bones, I was able to get peroxide cream from a hairdressers supplier, this stuff worked well as it clings to the bones, I would have needed a LOT more peroxide if I had to submerge the bones in liquid peroxide... basically just leave it in till it stops fizzing!
Bleach.jpg


Comparison before and after bleach...
Bleach2.jpg
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Happiness is a fat mouse and a warm rock!

Dont fly! 4X4! The noble eagle may soar! but a weasel wont get sucked into a jet intake valve...

Some people are like a slinky spring, they make you smile when you push them down a flight of stairs!
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Bernice » Mon Dec 08, 2014 9:15 pm

Step four - putting "Jacky" together!
This involved a wood base, dowel sticks, wire, and super glue... ALOT of super glue...

Gluing teeth into the jaws
Assemble.jpg


He now stands in my classroom and I am very proud of him, the only bits of the skeleton I never found were the very tip of his tail, and about 4 wrist bones, but I was able to assemble these well enough that if you didn't know better, you would never know... high school kids certainly don't :)
I designed his skull support so that his head can come off if I need to use it in the class, you can see the wire spring I made to keep his lower jaw attached, I just slip it off to remove the lower jaw... I will take a final picture and post him fully completed... thats the only photo I dont have here... silly me...
Assemble2.jpg
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Happiness is a fat mouse and a warm rock!

Dont fly! 4X4! The noble eagle may soar! but a weasel wont get sucked into a jet intake valve...

Some people are like a slinky spring, they make you smile when you push them down a flight of stairs!
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Ruan Stander » Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:26 pm

That is so cool !
You have the kind of patience I can only dream of; I've always used regular bleach on the bigger stuff and in just an hour or two it did the job pretty well.
On the smaller more delicate things, not so much- I learned this the hard way with a bat skeleton.

So anybody out there with a dead bat, please contact me. ;)
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Sico » Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:31 am

Your neighbours must have wondered where the hell the smell was coming from. If you were my neighbour I'd have been swearing at my cats wondering where they "hid it" ;-)
Great job on the reconstruction, it looks fantastic.
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Jaredr » Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:33 am

Well Done!!!
That is the dedication and time the youth of today need from their teachers!!!!
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby moe » Tue Dec 09, 2014 6:11 pm

Awesome stuff ...

Can this be done for a snake aswell?
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Westley Price » Tue Dec 09, 2014 10:29 pm

That's pretty epic Bernice.

I look forward to the pic of the final product.

Not to criticize, but in the last picture with the dowels, the stance looks a bit weird (low on the hind legs), so I am sure after attaching the legs it'll look more natural.

Awesome job. For any student, impaired or not, that would be one pretty awesome prac.
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Bushviper » Wed Dec 10, 2014 2:17 pm

That was a task that required dedication. If you have just left the carcass in the veld the bones would have been dragged off. Next time try to remove as much skin and flesh as possible with a knife. That makes the whole process quicker and less smelly. There are a number of websites where they show you step by step how to do this a lot quicker.
I would probably have done the skull the hips and a few long bones. I take my hat off to you.

I have tried this with a snake and a leguaan and just gave up. The bones are too small and just fall apart.

I once took a dead mongoose and a cobra to a taxidermist to make a scene of the two skeletons "fighting" each other but the guy left there before it was completed and because it was a favour nothing was in the books. I will still get than done one day.
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby moe » Wed Dec 10, 2014 11:14 pm

Hi bushviper

Do you know of any taxidermist that are good enough to do a small snake like a venustus? Sorry for digressing from the topic
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Bushviper » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:19 am

Nope I dont think you will find anyone. Its delicate work and will be very expensive.
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Bernice » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:56 pm

Sorry for the long hiatus! Life happened!
But like promised here is the final product, plus my other attempts at skeletal reconstruction...

The little bones you can see on the front of the board are the hyiod bone, and random wrist bones that I could not re-articulate because I could not find all of them! so the major wrist and ankle bones are in place but the small bones are not, but the overall look still works...
Jack.jpg

And yes some of the tail vertebrae are not bleached, this is on purpose, I use it as a comparison when explaining to my learners...


Me with my creation, chuffed as cheese...
Me.jpg
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Happiness is a fat mouse and a warm rock!

Dont fly! 4X4! The noble eagle may soar! but a weasel wont get sucked into a jet intake valve...

Some people are like a slinky spring, they make you smile when you push them down a flight of stairs!
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Bernice » Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:11 pm

My other two projects are both road kill victims... one a 3 month old domestic rabbit, the other a marsh owl... so sad...
But reincarnated as classroom exhibits to compare and contrast the bone structure of birds vs. mammals!

The owl was hit by a truck on its left side, and once I had the meat boiled and scraped off I found considerable damage...
the pelvis and wings were smashed to pieces, and the skull deformed, I fixed them together with wire and silicon...

Poor baby...
Owl.jpg


Deboned and bleached, now to order and assemble...
order.jpg


Saved these beauties for later!
feathers.jpg
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Happiness is a fat mouse and a warm rock!

Dont fly! 4X4! The noble eagle may soar! but a weasel wont get sucked into a jet intake valve...

Some people are like a slinky spring, they make you smile when you push them down a flight of stairs!
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Bernice
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Re: I have to be crazy... Skeletons in my closet...

Postby Bernice » Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:21 pm

Such wire! many glue! wow!
wire.jpg


Finally done! sorry for the sucky pic
owl fin.jpg


Then I installed him in a glass case with the rabbit skeleton, with the feathers I kept as a backdrop
Owl.jpg


Sorry, no photo record of how the rabbit was done, but basically it was scraped off the pavement, boiled into submission and then skinned and stripped of meat and boiled again to get rid of all the flesh, the paws and spine are still held together by tendons, I didnt remove them as the bones are so small!
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Happiness is a fat mouse and a warm rock!

Dont fly! 4X4! The noble eagle may soar! but a weasel wont get sucked into a jet intake valve...

Some people are like a slinky spring, they make you smile when you push them down a flight of stairs!
User avatar
Bernice
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