Them dry bones

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Them dry bones

Junior anthropology major Keturah Spence stress tests the rib cage of a pygmy sperm whale skeleton she and fellow interns assembled at the Georgia Museum of Natural History over the summer.

Photo by: Peter Frey

Four student interns working with the Georgia Museum of Natural History reassembled the skeleton of a 15-foot pygmy sperm whale, which had washed ashore on Ossabaw Island. The group used photos of a pygmy whale skeleton as a guide. It was the first time that a whale was reassembled at the museum and it is now hanging on display in the Discovery Room. “This was a learning experience for all of us, and I know the interns really enjoyed it,” says Liz McGhee, the assistant curator of mammalogy, ornithology and herpetology collections, who oversaw the project. The students only ran into trouble when assembling the flipper, an especially difficult area with delicate bones, McGhee says. In the end, a few bones from the flipper and one chevron bone, a bone that lies on top of vertebrae, were missing, and gaps were left in their places.

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For more information on the museum, go to http://dromus.nhm.uga.edu.