How do I dry a bear skull so the teeth don't crack?

Submitted by Jenelle on 9/1/04 at 3:09 PM. ( )

I have a bear skull (as well as some other mammal skulls) that have been cleaned by dermestid beetles and now I need to figure out how to not crack the teeth. I am going to freeze these skulls to kill any remaining beetles that may be inside and then I will be putting them in hydrogen peroxide to make them a bit whiter (for display), but I find when I try to dry them after all of this, the teeth tend to crack. Do you have any suggestions for me? Thanks!

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Bear teeth

This response submitted by Jeanette Hall on 9/1/04 at 3:36 PM. ( )

Good Luck! If you find a way please let me know. Every bear skull I have ever worked on or seen 90% of the teeth are cracked. It sems this may be linked to the enamel layer thickness on the idnividual.

Other mammals as well?

This response submitted by Jenelle on 9/1/04 at 3:46 PM. ( )

I have had problems with this in other mammals as well. Do you find the same thing? I have tried many different ways and seem to get the same outcome. It doesn't seem to be the freezing/thawing or even putting it in hydrogen peroxide that cracks them either, it seems to happen when I dry them - either in a drying oven or in a fume hood...


This response submitted by Danny on 9/1/04 at 5:39 PM. ( )

When I do bear skulls, I spary clear polyurethane on the teeth when they're raw. I always soak them in water for a few days before I simmer them (with a degreaser to get some of the grease out before their "boiled"), and when I take them out of the water, I spray them again. Then I simmer them in water, sal soda, and borax. After I get the meat off, I spray them again. Then I put them in a degreaser for 5 days, and spray them again. Then I bleach, and guess what? Spray them again, and seal the skull. It might be over-kill, but they don't crack. The trick is to not let them dry-out without the polyurethane.

Thank you!

This response submitted by Jenelle on 9/1/04 at 5:44 PM. ( )

Thanks! I think over-kill is better than cracking so I think I will try this. I have had many teeth cracked already so this sounds like a good thing to try!

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