Replacing Missing Bones

May 28, 2013 Posted by: K. VandenBerg

Phase I is complete! It took six months of professional cleaning and sculpting by the
Whales and Nails crew to prepare Whale 68's skeleton for an outdoor exhibit. Every
bone received a prescribed treatment depending on severity of oil, staining, and/or damage.  
Missing bones were fabricated. 

Replacements for missing bones were made using several different techniques, including:
modeled or cast prosthetics, molding and casting, or glue and sculpt epoxy.

Dan and his crew spent hundreds of hours creating new bones for Whale 68's skeleton.
Modeled prosthetics were used to form contra-lateral pieces (stylohyl of the hyoid), or for
unique pieces such as the two missing  vertebrae.  It took over 30 hours to create the
stylohyl and approximately 45 hours to make one vertebra.  How did Dan make a piece of
foam look like a real bone?  First, a foam plug was made from closed cell urethane foam.
Once solid, it was carved into the desired bone shape and coated with "Shell Shock" plastic.
Finally it was sanded, tooled, sculpted, and hand painted to resemble the original bone.

Cast prosthetics were used to repair several of the spinous processes (tips) of the
vertebrae. Dan was able to make a mold of a broken spinous process to create a cast he
could us for several broken vertebrae. With some sanding, sculpt epoxy, and paint he was
able to fit the cast to the vertebral stump and make a seamless repair.

When a bone had a similar match, like a phalange (finger) bone, Dan was able to make a
mold and cast the bone to make a duplicate. Two of the phalanges were created by casting
bones for the opposite flipper.

With all the new bones in place, the skeleton was ready for scanning by the Idaho Virtualization
Laboratory (IVL). Through a partnership with the NPS, Whales and Nails, IVL, and the
National Parks Foundation, Whale 68 was scanned in 3D! Check out the upcoming blog
post for more information and cool pics!

Replacing Missing Bones


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Last updated: April 14, 2015

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