Just before Christmas, Ray made a lot of progress on our mounted cast skeleton of the giant beaver “Castoroides“, a replica of the skeleton on exhibit at Earlham College. The armature to support the skeleton is made mostly out of 1/4-inch steel rod that is threaded through holes drilled in the vertebrae. This requires a metal bender, to shape the rod. After purchasing the bender, we had to find a place in the museum where it could be bolted to the floor. After VMNH’s Buildings and Grounds Department took care of the installation (below), we were ready to start the armature.
Shaping the rod for the vertebral column involves bending the rod into an initial, approximate shape based on drawings and measurements of the complete skeleton:
Then the vertebrae are strung onto the rod, and the shape is “precision-checked” by holding up the drawing in front of the skeleton and seeing if it looks the same:
After numerous small adjustments the vertebral column starts to take shape:
There’s still a lot of work to go, including attaching the skull, limbs, part of the tail, and the ribcage. But the primary structure is now in place. Moreover, once the first armature is completed, it can be used to make a template so that subsequent skeletons (like the one we’re making for the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery) can be completed much more quickly.
For those in the Martinsville area, Saturday, January 11 is the Dino Day festival at VMNH. As part of this year’s activities, the Paleontology Department is taking on the challenge of trying to cast an entire giant beaver skeleton in one day, more than 60 casts!