Monday, May 23, 2016

Back in the Saddle Again - Recreating a full skeleton

I've taken off several months from writing the Blog since I had a lot of things to do this spring - doing taxes for H&R Block, refurbishing a rental house, letting my right hand rest from air-scribe work, etc. But I'm back and proceeding at full speed ahead! (to mix metaphors)

I've been working at recreating a full size skeleton of a Thalattosaur. As readers of this blog know these bones are scanned before being sent off to Alaska for study. I can scale them in X,Y or Z dimensions using the 3D printing software. I have now printed out a full set of backbones based on a well-preserved Centrum+Neural Arch  specimen from Bernie. I scaled them and numbered them based on a well-preserved Miodentosaurus Brevis skeleton from China. I then added some 1/4 inch (6mm) foam pads to mimic the disks between the vertebrae. The resultant skeleton is about 13 feet (390cm) long. I'm not too worried about the exact length - we have bones of animals from 2 feet to 30 feet (0.6 to 9 meters) so any animal in that length range would be representative of a proper Thalattosaur. There are some significant challenges to printing out a 30 ft skeleton, however!

Next most common bones are Ribs. I made up a full rib in cedar wood, again based on the Miodentosaurus, since all the ribs recovered here are broken. I then made a silicone mold and cast about 52 copies! Boy, that sure is a lot. These copies will be shortened to match the Mio... bones and then mated up to the appropriate body vertebrae. I have chosen to hook the ribs to the centrums with small supermagnets. That way the ribs are removable for transport or storage.

The centrums themselves are strung on steel rods passing through holes where the spinal cord ran in the original bone.The rods are slightly less than 4 feet (102cm)  long so they will fit in a 'standard' display cabinet. This way the skeleton can 'swim' through 4 sequential cabinets at rock shows. It also makes it much easier to transport.

After the ribs I'll be working on tail chevrons and limbs. I will be attending a  National Federation of Rock Club show in late July, and Eric Meitz will be presenting at the SVP (Society of Vertebrate Paleontology) in October. I hope to have the skeleton, in whatever state it is, displayed at these shows.

I'm also preparing still more bones from the original matrix blocks. One of the original large blocks 200+ pounds (100+ Kg) is yielding another nice limb bone. I'm also working on a smaller block at home where I have a nice boom microscope. In a block about 10 inches (25cm) I have at least 8 centrums, two neural arches, two rib sections, and a very nice skull fragment at least 5 inches (12cm) long! And I have yet to expose all the bones in it! That will be for the next post (soon) I promise.
Sincerely, Greg Carr

No comments:

Post a Comment