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Dwarf Caiman (paleosuchus Palpebrosus) Project Maceration And Articulation

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Aurelien-, Dec 15, 2019.

  1. Aurelien-

    Aurelien- New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I am a bit of a beginner in taxidermy but I already macerated and articulated a few animals, they are ugly but hey, we learn by doing! I saved some lizards, chameleons, and other complex stuff for later, but I have to move out... So, I would like to start these fragile things to empty the freeze!

    One of the biggest thing in this freezer is a dwarf caiman (1.5m long with tail). It's in several pieces already skinned and cleaned as much as possible with scalpel: head, each limb, and the vertebral column into 3 or 4 parts.

    I will use maceration to clean the skeleton. But, as I have read so far, it's going to be a truuuuue mess. Everything will fall apart and so on...

    1. I guess I can macerate the vertebrae of the tail, that's just vertebrae, right?
    2. For the limbs, better separate the feet/hands than the long bones, macerate the long bones and scrap with scalpel feet/hands to avoid the mess with carpal/tarsal bones if macerated?
    3. For the rib cage, sternal ribs are made of cartilage, so, if macerated, they will disappear, right? So scrapping will be the only way to clean these sternal ribs?
    4. For the skull, what's the best way to do that? All the teeth will fall, and the skull itself will fall apart as well?
    5. I don't know yet if I still have the gastralia, but I guess it's cartilage as well?

    Thanks guys!
     
  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Do each limb in it's own container. Bones are much easier to sort that way. Pretty much what you have already stated. When you do the skull, macerate for a day or so and then pull out the teeth and organize them. That way you have them all in the right order and you can just glue them back in. You can try and put some rubber bands or zip ties on your skull before maceration to try and hold it together. Especially if it was a young one it's going to want to fall apart. Have you seen the post on assembling these and the 3D page of the pieces you will get? As for the sternum, it will be cartilage but I have had some success with scraping clean, a long soak in alcohol and then positioning and drying in the freezer.
     

  3. Aurelien-

    Aurelien- New Member

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    Thanks SW! Do you think I should scrap the carpal/tarsal/phalanges part? Or it's not that hard to find the right position for all the bones in these parts? I guess everything will fall in the bottom of the container...
    I don't know what post you are talking about, I have seen a post with a closer look at carpal bones, the guy used beetles for his caiman. If you have suggestion, I would be glad to see the post you are thinking about!
    So, for the cartilage, no maceration right?
     
  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    I had a kangaroo sternum that I soaked in alcohol then dried in the freezer for several months. It was better than something I could have fabricated.

    The 3D post didn't come up in the first search that I did but here it is. https://www.taxidermy.net/threads/350843/

    I believe I copied all the videos from this and saved them to my PC. There is a corrected link further down in the post but it is different from the original page I copied. If you click on that first picture, you should get a much larger view of it.
     
  5. Aurelien-

    Aurelien- New Member

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    Thank you so much, really helpful! I will try to start with this guy as soon as I have some free time then :) !
     
  6. Aurelien-

    Aurelien- New Member

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    Hey!

    After one week of maceration (37°C), teeth are still well attached to the upper/lower jaws! I can't remove them yet, will check again in a few days. However, the teeth became all black! I was wondering if you know why suck a coloration ? I will have to clean them in peroxyde or something? If so, that's probably gonna be a mess to clean them one by one to not to loose the position of each tooth...
     
  7. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Yup. The black is from anaerobic bacteria that took over because the oxygen in the water got depleted. See my post on cleaning beaver skulls. When all is done, the black goes away. Best way to avoid this is to change half the water about halfway into the week if it's getting beyond foul. Have you read any of the other posts on cleaning these? Try alligator skull in your searches as that is what most get to work on. Should be some good info on getting the teeth out and storing them to replace later. Some have used foam to stick them into and some have used small cups and egg cartons. Difference being that these have also been large alligators. How long is the skull on your specimen?
     
  8. Aurelien-

    Aurelien- New Member

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    Oh, interesting! I am wondering why on enamel and less on bones?
    On your beaver post the black disappeared after the degreasing in ammania then? Not after peroxyde. The skull is ~ 20 cm long. Teeth are tiny and really similar, I have read some post and teeth are towards the sky.
    How can you then do the following steps (deegreasing, whitening) on the teeth. If you glue them after maceration the chemicals of the following steps will take them out, no? So you have to degrease them all in separate containers?
    Thank you so much for your help SW!
     
  9. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Ok, the skull you have is actually quite small compared to what the others have worked on (60 cm). This is actually quite tiny. I would be careful to avoid pulling any teeth at all. Keep the teeth facing up so they do not fall out if they loosen. Hopefully, you have been able to secure the skull some with rubber bands so it falls apart as little as possible. If the flesh is now gone from the bone, soak in ammonia for a while mixed with a little water and liquid detergent for dish washing. Fairy was a good one there if you can find it. If you feel that the grease is gone, use peroxide. If you think there is still grease you might also want to try soaking in acetone.
     
  10. Aurelien-

    Aurelien- New Member

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    Hi!

    I have some news! See the pictures below.

    After 1.5 week of maceration, that's what I got.
    I gently brushed the skull to remove the skins sticked to the bones, I used a garden hose to wash it a bit. The skull is still in one piece (with the exception of 3 small bones coming from both orbits and somewhere around the foramen magnum). BUT the lower jaw came into tons of pieces. I didn't expect that. I took out all the teeth but A LOT of replacement teeth just came out and I don't know their position, it's going to be a mess I guess.
    In the jar, that's one "hand". Two days ago the ligaments were still there and I was going to take everything out to put the hand into ethanol and avoid that all the bones would be in the bottom of the jar. Too late. I will have to try to deal with carpals. I wasn't happy with the pectoral girdle and the vertebrae. There is a lot of cartilageous parts on these bones and I don't think I will keep them so I will leave them a bit more macerating.

    Currently:
    All the skull parts and hand are in a mix of ammonia/water. Outside the heated box.
    Vertebrae and pectoral girdle are still in the maceration tank.
    Teeth are just on the toilet paper waiting for your advices.

    Next steps:

    - I need to find uncolored dish soap and mix it with ammonia/water and put that in the 37°C tank?

    - 3 more days and I take out the last parts macerating and put them in ammonia/soap/water

    - Teeth need to be washed prior to put them in peroxyde or the solution will detach the bits of flesh + whiten the teeth?

    - Waiting for some answers before macerating the rest of the body waiting in the freezer.

    Do you guys keep cartilage for some parts, except the ribs?
    What would you be your strategy to clean hands and feet?
    For the rib cage, should I macerate the whole rib cage and once the flesh is partially removed I have to remove the cartilaginous part of the ribs to clean it by hand because maceration will eat everything? What's the best strategy?

    Thanks!


    82593547_195095948284577_7623133506595454976_n.jpg

    83015487_2597326083691514_1801725049661554688_n.jpg 82432393_1015264515525930_4473476917189672960_n.jpg 83410106_610007836476737_5449941322527932416_n.jpg 82383163_595233367703298_5225803849981231104_n.jpg 82447133_196880378107469_7423160379049508864_n.jpg
     
  11. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    - I need to find uncolored dish soap and mix it with ammonia/water and put that in the 37°C tank? A colored one will probably fine. Just look for a good one and not cheap, watered down stuff.

    - 3 more days and I take out the last parts macerating and put them in ammonia/soap/water Don't go by days. Wait until the flesh is gone before going to the next step. Could be more .. or less. A warm temperature makes things happen faster.

    - Teeth need to be washed prior to put them in peroxyde or the solution will detach the bits of flesh + whiten the teeth? Peroxide only will be fine.

    Do you guys keep cartilage for some parts, except the ribs? A ligament mount would be using the cartilage but it would need to be cleaned by beetles to do that. Maceration destroys the cartilage too.
    What would you be your strategy to clean hands and feet? Take photos of the structure before macerating so you can see where some of the bones should be. Do each foot separately so the bones do not get mixed up. Look for references. There are many online and some on this forum. Alligator foot bones or carpals will be similar.
    For the rib cage, should I macerate the whole rib cage and once the flesh is partially removed I have to remove the cartilaginous part of the ribs to clean it by hand because maceration will eat everything? What's the best strategy? Remove the cartilage before macerating it should come off in one piece. Freeze for now and scrape clean at your leisure. I freeze them in water to prevent shrinkage. When clean, soak in alcohol to preserve it.
     
  12. Aurelien-

    Aurelien- New Member

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    Thank you so much! I'll keep you updated! ;)
     
  13. Aurelien-

    Aurelien- New Member

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    Averything is out of the maceration tank. And everything is now in a mix of Ammonia, Dish soap and water. Back in the insulated tank 37°C. Hope it's the good way?

    After 3 days, the water/ammonia mix of the skull and hand was already full of fat, like a lot! Didn't expect it would be so greasy.
     
  14. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    There is quite a bit. As the water gets foul, dump it out and add clean solution again. You may have to do this a few times. After once or twice, you should be able to leave it in the same solution for a week or two. Not all of the cloudiness will be grease. It seems to get a little cloudy just sitting exposed to air too. You can take all the other bones and degrease them all at the same time. If you have the limbs still separated, you can put the individual bone sets in small mesh bags to keep them together.
     
  15. Aurelien-

    Aurelien- New Member

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    I didn't macerate the other 3 limbs, and thoracic cage, I was waiting to see if everything would go well with the first parts.

    Thanks for the advices! I will start the maceration of the other parts then!