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Recovery Maceration And Assembly Of Deer Fawn Skull And Skeleton

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Vulpes Vulpes, Sep 30, 2020.

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  1. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    Sea Wolf and other experts, I need your help.

    Backstory: My friend called me after a fox was attacking a weak fawn. The fawn died soon after. It's hair was already slipping before it died--must have been really sick, maybe dehydrated?

    I searched this forum extensively and read all the top posts on maceration, skull and skeleton prep. I still have some questions.

    I removed the skin and much of the meat from the skeleton. I sealed the bones into a 5-gal plastic bucket with 1 quart of 10% ammonia mixed in at room temp. I know a higher concentration of Ammonia would work faster.

    Questions
    1) How long should I let the bone sit before checking?
    2) Can I put them back into the same solution after scrubbing them if I still smell Ammonia? (It's kinda amazing how well those Home Depot buckets seal. The bucket is inside the house and I cannot smell one ppm of ammonia when I put my nose right to it.)
    3) How much Dawn should I put into 5 gallons of water to for the grease-removal bath. (I plan to keep Ammonia and Dawn baths separate despite much debate on the topic.)
    4) Should I heat the water with Dawn? If yes, how hot?
    5) I will drill holes into the leg bones to aid with marrow and grease removal. Do I need to do this to the ribs or other bones too?
    6) Once everything looks clean, I will let it dry and soak in 12% hydrogen peroxide, then set the bones in the sun to dry for a few days before starting the puzzle. Am I missing anything?
     

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  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Not at all sure what you are trying to do. Whatever method you are using, it is not one I am familiar with. Soaking uncleaned bones in ammonia isn't going to do much that I know of. If you are doing this at room temperature, drilling the bones will do little or nothing because the degreasing solution needs to be heated to 115 degrees 24/7 for the fat/tallow to melt and be removed. Degreasing bones with flesh on them is not going to turn out any sort of good result.

    If you are trying to clean the bones using maceration, try using the SEARCH function on here and read about how to do it. There are several posts and at least a couple of tutorials on doing simple, single specimens like what you have. You may still be able to accomplish this but I don't know if your soak in ammonia will now prevent any good cleaning to take place.
     
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  3. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    Understood. I need to macerate the bones first to remove the flesh. My wife is not going to like that. I will probably leave the bones inside my groundhog trap for a few months away from my house) to get them clean before I restart the cleaning process. I will let you know how it goes.
     
    fadetoblack72 likes this.
  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Macerating would be better as you will not lose any bones. The water needs to be heated to work properly though. They will be clean in 2 weeks (not months) if you do it correctly. If you look at the posts on maceration (tutorials) there is one post where I address the odor and how to prevent it or, at least control it. Leaving the bones out will get many of the smaller ones lost due to other animals running off with them. That would include rats and mice which can get into your trap.. You can macerate each limb in a plastic baggie so the bones don't get mixed up. Easier to sort and put back together that way. The maceration to clean is also water only. No ammonia or anything else is added. Just plain water.

    If you want to try and salvage this, and you probably can, make a trade with the wife. You do this .. she gets something. Even if it is dinner out. Can't hurt to try.
     
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  5. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    Okay everyone. I flushed the ammonia out and dropped a fish tank heater into this sealed bucket set to 84 F.
     

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  6. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Hopefully it works. If you have an old blanket, wrap it around the bucket on the outside to act as insulation and hold the heat in.
     
    fadetoblack72 and coroner2 like this.
  7. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    Well it worked. The temp was a couple degrees too high at 84 and the skull fell apart. It’s magical to see the flesh slurry spill away to reveal clean white bones!
    I put the bones back into a quart of 10% Ammonia mixed with 2 gallons of water and some Dawn. I will check back in.. a week??
     

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  8. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    The temp was actually fine. The bones fell apart because it was a very young animal and the bone plates were not yet securely fused together. Don't worry about them just yet but be gentle with them as they are probably fairly delicate. Check in a week and turn the temp up all the way. With the heater you have, you might get 90. The temp would be better at 115 but a fawn will not be very greasy and maceration dissolves a lot of the grease as well. After a week .. or two, rinse them all off with hot water and pour in enough peroxide to cover the bones and just let them sit. For these, you really might want to use the weaker 3% for cuts (drugstore/Walmart/supermarket type). The strong stuff might actually damage these as they are going to be thin. Let them sit in the peroxide until they whiten then gently lay them out on white paper towels until dry. you can sort them into groups of matching pieces as they dry to help try and figure where they will go before you start with the glue stage.

    When you rinse with maceration, do so gently so you don't wash away even the smallest of bones. You will get good enough to recover even the tiny bones of the inner ear and you may have them in the bottom of the bucket with this one too.

    Inner ear bones of a wolf
    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    The bones are cleaned and mostly ready for whitening. One femur and some carpals/tarsals digits still have staining or flesh attached. How do you quickly remove stubborn flesh and ligaments without damaging the bones?
    As this was a very young deer, all the growth plates separated from the bones. I'll glue them up once I've matched them.
     

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  10. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Bones look pretty good actually. Any little stubborn bits of ligaments can be shaved off with a sharp knife once they have dried a bit to firm them up. You will also be surprised at how much of the remaining tissue bits are dissolved by the peroxide step. Any little leftover bits of tendon that are left should dry clear and shrink to almost nothing. Use 40VOL peroxide if you can get it. The one with the red color ... is that one drilled so the center could get cleaned out? Looks a lot like blood still. If that didn't budge with degreasing/ammonia it might turn brown with the peroxide but a soak in Iron Out after should remove a lot of the off color. It may be that blood settled into that side of the carcass after death if it lay in one spot for a while.
     
  11. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    Spot on. I forgot to drill the ends of one bone. It’s the red one. I since drilled it and flushed with soap. Lots of goop came out!
     
  12. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    I've sported almost all the bones. The "wrist" and ankle bones were very tricky but some thankfully were still held together by dry ligaments.
    The skull is back together.
    I'll have to post a pic of some bone mystery fragments. They are very fragile, shaped like a hollow cylinder with a spongy-looking exterior. It's not listed in the bone building book.
    IMG_2208.jpg IMG_2209.jpg IMG_2228.jpg
     

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  13. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    That is coming along very nicely. Hopefully, you wiped the excess glue off the surface of the skull before it dried. You can use a damp cloth for that with Elmer's. Just enough to make contact in the joint is all you need.
     
  14. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    Can someone help me orient the sternum? Which side points to the neck? 317DD950-4056-4392-9AD8-3EA684B2A2E1.jpeg
     
  15. Kendall

    Kendall Active Member

    The way your photo is oriented the bottom bone looks to be the xiphoid process but the very top bone looks to be a caudal vertebra (you sure it belongs there?).
     
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  16. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    I am not sure it belongs there. It did seem a bit off. I sorted through a pile of bones so its likely they got mixed up. I will check the tail to see where it belongs.
     
  17. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    I agree with Kendall. That top bone is a tail bone. And the orientation is correct (neck end at the bottom)

    As a thought, this is becoming a really good thread on the process and assembly of a fawn skeleton. Maybe consider changing the title to Recovery Maceration and Assembly of a Small Deer Fawn Skull and Skeleton ?
     
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  18. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    In order:
    1) Gluing the “knuckles” to the cannon bones. The rear cannon bones are longer than the front ones.
    2) reattaching the caps to each vertebrae. These bones are probably fused on older animals.
    3) cranial bones
    4) tail, spine and Skull
    5) fusing two halves of the hip/sacrum
    6) putting the “toes” together
    7) ear bones. I glued the skull together too soon and couldn’t get these bones into place. I’m leaving them out of the finished product
     

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  19. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    1) Metacarpals front view
    2) metacarpals side view
    3) spine
    4) metacarpals rear view
     

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  20. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Did you use Elmer's? You should be able to dampen the skull and loosen the areas in the back so you can get the ear bulla in place. You might have an issue with properly positioning the hooves if you have already glued the last toe joint in place.