Bones are used for displays as well as for educational purposes. Following are several ways that flesh can be removed from animal bones.
Dermestid Beetles: These beetles eat the meat off of bones without damaging the bones. These flesh eaters can clean even the smallest bone and leave it in perfect condition.
Wikipedia Dermestid Beetles: A Human Skull Being Cleaned by Dermestid Beetles at Skulls Unlimited International, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Maceration: This method is slow and stinky. But then the beetle method doesn’t produce a pleasant fragrance either. Like the flesh eating beetles, natural decomposition in water also produces quality clean bones.
Boiling: This is the least preferred method if you want quality bones for display. It is the fastest method, but risky in that the bones could be badly damaged–greasy and flaky.
As a kid, I did try this boiling method. My problems were not so much with the boiling technique–Quality was not my goal. I just wanted to see if the method would work. I had planned to clean and return my mom’s electric cooking pot but forgot. YEP! My mom found the pot with the dead frog moving around in the boiling water. The pot and its contents went out with the trash.I didn’t dare ask about the quality of the bones.
Skeletons are a common fall decoration. This study can be an introduction into other bone related investigations. For example, breaking a turkey wishbone by pulling its ends in opposite direction is a common US Thanksgiving tradition.
See FORCES ON A TURKEY WISHBONE for information about using a wishbone to identify and explain Newton’s Third Law of Motion–Action/Reaction Forces.
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