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Articulating a common snapper shell

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by AudreyElizabeth, Sep 7, 2014.

  1. AudreyElizabeth

    AudreyElizabeth New Member

    Hey folks, I ran a search and couldn't find much. My first foray into soil maceration has turned into a 50 piece puzzle (never again). I have a completely unarticulated common snapper shell. I haven't done anything this complicated yet- is it a good beginner project?
     
  2. AudreyElizabeth

    AudreyElizabeth New Member

    I believe that I'll try it. I have the bones sorted and have already found some matching pieces. Can I glue them before I whiten them with peroxide? I plan on using super glue. I believe that the natural coloration will help with re-articulation.
     

  3. Just chunk it. Snapper shells aren't worth $15 in good shape so its not worth your time to piece together. If you do however feel some need to put it together degrease, whiten and then assemble.
     
  4. AudreyElizabeth

    AudreyElizabeth New Member

    I'm not looking for money, I'm looking for practice. I do agree with you though, it looks like it will be a pain. It's just for personal enjoyment/experience; I guess I'm leaning towards articulation someday. I had no idea that turtles had sutures in their shells. I would have let me beetle colony clean it, but the colony wasn't large enough to clean it in a timely manner.
     
  5. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    I have assembled large sea turtle shells and it can be done. Clean and whiten everything, dry and then lay out all the bone parts like puzzle pieces. Use Elmers glue, not Super Glue. You need to be able to fit the pieces together and it might take a little wiggling. You will have corners and edges and Elmer's gives you time to get things together. Do a few pieces at a time, let dry and add a few more. You will not be able to assemble the whole shell in one sitting.
     
  6. trapperrev

    trapperrev Member

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    I've been looking through the archives for turtle help. I was a fool and put two complete turtles into maceration at once. I should have kept them separate and put each full limb in panty hose.
    Is there a reference help for articulation? My wife is getting me Lee Post's small mammal book but I didn't know if there was something similar for turtles.
    20201230_182527.jpg 20201230_182549.jpg 20201230_182619.jpg 20201230_182635.jpg
     
    Vulpes Vulpes likes this.
  7. Kendall

    Kendall Active Member

    Here is a small common snapping turtle I articulated. Hope it helps.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  8. trapperrev

    trapperrev Member

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    Thanks. Anything helps. I've never articulated a skeleton. I have an otter to articulate but I'm waiting on the Lee Post book. I'm still trying to separate which pieces belong to which turtle. I have no idea to tell which is left and right. I have about 20 pictures of articulated snapper skeletons. The close up pictures I have of feet are from one which was hot glued together which helps but puzzling out carpals and tarsals is still challenging. I read that they should have 8 cervical vertebrae but I have 13 full vertebrae instead of 16. Odd numbers usually aren't good. Is the attached picture a tongue bone?
    I have a third turtle but it's only skull, shell and paws. I have the shells - one is fully apart and another is mostly together.
    I have so many specific questions I'd hoped there was a reference book similar to the Bone Man stuff. When I get his mammal book perhaps it will help for these as well.
     
  9. trapperrev

    trapperrev Member

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    Mouth?
    20201231_165527.jpg
     
  10. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

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    Anterior tip of the plastron
     
  11. trapperrev

    trapperrev Member

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    Thank you. I had another piece like that with skull, plastron and feet and I assumed it was part of the head for some reason. I didn't think anything had a tongue bone.
     
  12. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Good heavens. That is not a puzzle that I would want to be sorting. Snappers are fairly easy to get. Might want to consider doing another, singly and bag the limbs. Could make an interesting dragon out of the parts you have now.
     
  13. trapperrev

    trapperrev Member

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    I thought about that. I'm kicking myself because I've cleaned a couple skeletons and I was always particular about putting each section in panty hose for maceration and plastic containers for degreasing.

    However, they're "firsts". I picked one up by hand years ago but gave away the shell after I butchered it. I put set lines out this summer and caught three in two days and my boys were excited and I thought I'd experiment since they're the first turtles I've caught since I've gotten interested in bones.

    I've learned tons so far. I tossed everything into maceration so I have shell assembly to attempt. I cut ribs on one for back strap meat and wanted to grind the rib ends smooth and make it into a bowl. I couldn't get the grinder at the right angle so I took the shell apart, ground them down and convinced myself I'd be able to reassemble it later. Yes, you read that right. That was not the smartest of things to do. I can imagine all the experienced people face palming right now.

    If I had kept each limb separate, is there a way to distinguish which phalange goes with which metacarpal/metatarsal?

    I don't mind puzzles. Opossum skulls are always fun. But a guide for assembling carpals and tarsals would be helpful. I'll figure it out eventually but I'm looking for advice. You all are an incredible resource here, especially you, Sea Wolf. I think you've helped with every question I've asked here.
     
  14. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    I have all of Lee Posts manuals and downloads. Nothing there that will help much with reptiles. They are a whole different critter. I have written to him and asked if he ever considered adding a reptile book to the collection. There might be something online, even a detailed photo, that might be of help.
     
  15. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

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    The possibility of putting together a skeleton with that many pieces is next to impossible. The only way to go would be to visit a museum scientific collection with a series of articulated skeletons of various sizes. I prepared probably 150 reference snapping turtles in the last 39 years at my museum and where ever you live I would encourage you to try to visit a amphibian and reptile collection. Over two summers I prepared every snapper of a masters' students research project investigating if snapper kill "baby duckies" - about 120 full skeletons of turtles over 12 inches SVL. Using a dermestid colony they came out 90% articulated and you could perhaps find the right size and try to match up the position of the individual small parts.
     
  16. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Off topic PA, but .. did the students research require study from dead turtles? Or were they possibly collected to study stomach contents? I've seen it happen .. more than once. Once a snapper came up under a young cygnet and grabbed it. It escape but later died due to tissue loss from its chest. I have only seen them take ducklings in shallow water when they swam overhead. In this video, one actively chases down a duckling and grabs it.
     
  17. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

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    Greetings Terry,
    I don't check all the posts real often. In the mid-1980's a person from the PA Game commission was doing a Master's thesis in a lake having a restricted duck propagation area. During the baby duck season, he trapped snappers only over a certain size and then took stomach contents and analyzes them. He was able to get Roxy Laybourne of the Smithsonian to analyze the vertebrate stomach contents and found I thin remains of one duck out of the over 120 large snappers. I think they also found a warbler and a sparrow - possibly caught drinking or accidental death and floating in the lake. The volume of stomach contents was up to and over a liter in volume - mostly pondweed. Like Grizzly bears, they are primarily vegetarians until they catch vertebrates or invertebrates. A study I read when I worked in Yellowstone had stomach contents about 90% grass.
     
    Sea Wolf likes this.
  18. You better sell the bones for crafts and find other specimens, then get dermestid beetles.