Boneland: Building a Dolphin Skeleton Part 1

After bones were dug up, they were given a couple of soaks in 12%-17% concentration hydrogen peroxide for no more than a few hours. This whitened up certain bones beautifully, but others not so much! Stay tuned for solutions that come up for improving the color on these brown-hued bones. The interesting part is the discoloration seems to be concentrated in the phalanges, metacarpals, and carpals (flipper bones) and the caudal vertebrae (tail region of the backbone). These are the denser of the bones in the whole skeleton, so maybe there is excess soft tissue trapped in the spongy bone and they need a bit more TLC in the form of hydrogen peroxide/ammonia soaks or sun bleaching.

Disassembled dolphin bones

The next part has been like a jigsaw puzzle – organizing the bones and fitting them together.

From tip of the skull to the tip of the tail, bone shape and size will vary, and having an eye for how these parameters change really help to decide which bone goes where. For example, tail vertebrae have chevron bones, tiny bones that project toward the bell-side of the animal. In the first part of the tail, these bones start off pretty small in size. Towards the mid-tail the chevrons get bigger, but then reduce in size again before disappearing at around the spot where the body meets the fluke.

The next step will be to repair some vertebrae and ribs that got damaged during the necropsy. See you next time!

Almost assembled dolphin skeleton