In Owl Pellet Dissection, I showed you how to dissect an owl pellet, sort the bones using a guide, and identify the skeleton using a dichotomous key.
So, remember that story about boiling a fish head for my Ichthyology lab final, then having to reconstruct the entire skull using a guide from my textbook? Yea, I still get excited about that.
This process is way easier and much more forgiving than a university laboratory final.
You are only using 1-2 bones from each group of bones, except for the ribs and vertebra where you’ll need about six…
1. 1:2 bleach and water (or, just a dash of bleach in about 1/2 cup of water)
2. small container
4. black or dark cardstock cut in half
5. super glue
7. skeleton guide
8. cotton swab
Start by counting how many of each bones you’ll need by looking at the skeleton guide, then place each bone into the cup of diluted bleach.
Let the bones sit for about half hour or so, allowing the bones to become whiter and more sterilized.
Pour the dilution and bones onto a thick set of napkins. I do this instead of straining it because most of the bones are so tiny and thin that they can easily be lost. Once they are dry, put the bones onto the dark cardstock.
Prepare your glue, skeleton key (ahem), and bones with paper.
Sort the bones again to make the piecing together a little easier.
Beginning with the skull and mandibles, place them accordingly onto the top portion of the cardstcock.
I use a cotton swab to help rub the super glue onto the bones.
Once the glue is on the bone, place it gently onto the paper. Keep your probe and tweezers handy as they super glue will more than likely stick to your fingers, creating a little tug-of-war between the cardstock and your fingers.
Continue to follow the guide carefully so that you have all of the skeleton parts in the correct place. Given the fact that you are less likely to have all of the vertebrae, and probably less likely to have even matching pieces, continue to emit excitement and awe for the child’s sake. It does not have to be perfect. It’s the process that counts!
Once all of the pieces are put together to your best ability, step back and feel awesome for accomplishing such a zoological feat! Hang your masterpiece up!
If you want to review the dissection and sorting, visit Owl Pellet Dissection.