Three girls, a dead raccoon and a crockpot
March 4, 2018 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Found a dead... something... in the woods? Here's how you and your budding zooarchaeologists can clean up the skeleton. Need some help with identification? John Rochester on Flickr has hundreds of photos (may be a northern Europe focus)
posted by Helga-woo (19 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
A considerable previously on articulating animal skeletons.
posted by Helga-woo at 2:16 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


So I'm guessing that the crock pot is now a dedicated corpse boiling device now, and no longer in the food prep line up.
posted by Splunge at 2:39 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]


I think that Crockpot has always been a dedicated corpse boiling device (it came from the lab).

You can do it on the hob, but use an old saucepan as a dedicated corpse boiling device.
posted by Helga-woo at 2:51 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


If you're in the US and this is your jam, it's probably best to to not fool around with birds if at all possible to avoid accidentally violating the MBTA.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:06 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


So I'm guessing that the crock pot is now a dedicated corpse boiling device now, and no longer in the food prep line up.

As with rectal thermometers, you do not want to get them mixed up.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:49 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


You can do it on the hob, but use an old saucepan as a dedicated corpse boiling device.
posted by Helga-woo


Nah. I'll continue to use the 55 gallon drum in my garage. I'm kidding, of course.

Of course

posted by Splunge at 3:50 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


I'm all for the 55 gallon drum myself.

Because every home needs a dedicated corpse boiling device. The bigger the better!
posted by BlueHorse at 4:00 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


or if you're at toe zoo you need one of these...
posted by cyclotronboy at 5:00 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


I have subbed at schools that did something like this with chicken bones. The student's project is to learn about chicken anatomy by assembling a skeleton. The ones that I saw were pretty neat.
posted by dfm500 at 5:33 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


Dammit. I’m literally right in the middle of putting together a big post on cleaning animal skeletons.
posted by not_the_water at 7:21 PM on March 4 [4 favorites]


I have a dear friend that I used to date and back when we were dating she worked at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Los Angeles has a zoo and some aquariums and also a number of naturally-occurring sources of large animal remains such as mountain lions that wander onto the freeway or marine mammals that wash up onto the beach, and whenever the city finds itself with the carcass of any animal too large to flush it gets offered to NHMLA.

Now, the museum doesn't want all of these remains but the staff is canny enough to know that if they turn down anything then it's less likely that they'll be called the next time something that they do want drops dead. So they take everything.

There's a big room, far from the prying eyes of the public, where the museum stores the remains of all of the animals that they have no plans for. I haven't seen it, but all of the staff who I've ever heard talk about it say that it is haunting.

Anyway, for the stuff that they do want to display the Natural History Museum doesn't use crock pots to strip the bones; they use flesh-eating beetles.

Fucking rad.

I have heard a rumor, but haven't been able to confirm it, that when NHMLA was given a whale carcass they left it out in the Southern California sun for a couple of weeks to soften it up before giving it to the beetles.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:06 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


This is highly relevant to me - my four year old and I found most of a raccoon skeleton in our backyard today.
posted by pombe at 9:31 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


I work at a natural history museum, and I can verify that I have arrived at work to a godawful stench in the stairwell from the mammals folks taking whale pieces up to the roof to sit in the sun (well, it's Seattle, so let's say "weather") for a few weeks. I don't know if they gave the pieces to the dermestid beetle colony later or what, though.

I have also read a paper on composting large animals, because the collection manager was pressure washing a large skull in the parking lot one time and mentioned that he was relieved he'd pulled it from the compost a little early, rather than a little late, and I was curious.
posted by hades at 9:33 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry not_the_water! I'd love a more in depth post, this popped up on my feed and I thought it was a fun project. There is much more to this subject, I would very much like to know more about these flesh-eating beetles.

An archaeology professor at my university was renowned for stopping the fieldtrip minibus at high speed to scavenge unusual corpses. He would often bury them where he found them and return years later. There was also a rumour he fed his children's guinea pigs sphagnum moss to help with his research into big bodies.
posted by Helga-woo at 2:23 AM on March 5


Back when my kids were being home schooled my spouse brought home a freshly deceased road-kill beaver. Ever the wet blanket, I suggested that since we had been warned to avoid any animal who was not shy of humans due to rabies in the local bats and rodentia, this particular beaver might had died because it was rabid and too delirious to watch out for cars. I said the kids would have to take full infectious protection, hazmat suits etc. We both agreed that was impractical, and ended up burying the beaver in our backyard, not to get rid of it, but to get rid of the rabies.

The problem with crock-pots is that they discolour the bones, darkening them. And a really cool specimen should be bone white.

Unfortunately we had to move before the skeleton had time to decompose enough to dig the poor creature up again...

We had a jaw bone collection, of specimens gathered from where ever they lay (frequently road shoulders) and I once had a cow skull which was retrieved from the pasture where the cow died of unexpected natural causes, and later the coyotes dismembered her. I had to give it away though. That thing was heavy, awkward and sharp - not the horns, which to my surprise had weather away until they resembled all the other bone in the skull, but all the other odd edges and angles.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:20 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Aww this takes me back... Used to do similar with all sorts of wildlife bodies I'd find in the woods when I was a wee sprog. Found squirrels, raccoon, rats, and a faun once.. that was a real prize!
posted by FatherDagon at 8:35 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


At roughly this age I brought owl pellets in for my Girl Scouts to dissect. It was interesting seeing the range of reactions: some were fascinated, some were grossed out, one left the room in tears. (This week I'm taking the troop to an animal shelter to make fake scat from oats and cocoa; I expect there will be the same range of reactions.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:37 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


his research into big bodies.

Ahem... That should be bog bodies.
posted by Helga-woo at 12:59 PM on March 5


So I'm guessing that the crock pot is now a dedicated corpse boiling device now, and no longer in the food prep line up.

Actually, this is best way to season your cast iron skillet!
posted by Kabanos at 9:18 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


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