31 January 2010

Deer bone soup in the sink

During last weekend's field trip for Cepaea nemoralis I also chanced upon a deer skeleton.


Deer bones, if not entire skeletons, are quite common in wooded areas around here (see this post for an intact deer carcass). The nice thing about last weekend's find was that almost all the major bone groups were there, some still articulated.

I took the skull, the nearby jaw bones, the pelvis and representative pieces from the spine. They were free of flesh, but I noticed later that small pieces of cartilage were present on the pelvis, although, there was no offensive odor.

Last night, I got down to cleaning the bones in the bathroom sink.


First, I scrubbed them under hot water using an old tooth brush, then soaked them in hydrogen peroxide overnight (yes, the deer skull soup with free radicals). I am now giving the pelvis a short soak in dilute bleach.

The sad thing was that a whole bunch of dead ants washed out of one of the jaw bones this morning. Apparently, they had a nest in there. If I had realized that sooner I would have put the bone in the backyard without disturbing the nest.


Coyote said...

The Bone Room recommends avoiding chlorine-based bleach because it irreparably damages the bone itself, resulting in chalky, weak, extremely porous specimens that will turn to bone meal with age.



I know. I once ruined a beautiful deer skull with antlers in bleach. I kept the pelvis in dilute bleach for only ~2 h. I am hoping that didn't do any lasting damage.