Chickensaurus Skeleton

Geek Culture

As a lesson in anatomy, my son and I reassembled a chicken skeleton from the bones remaining after a chicken dinner. We cleaned and dried the bones, then hot-glued them together. It came out pretty cool. A chicken is a lot bigger than you’d think. We gave it a pouncing pose. From the proper angle it does have a dinosaur look about it. 


To do this you need:  A whole chicken, which can be found at a Chinese or equivalent market. You really do want the whole chicken. It should look pretty gruesome, like this. 


Boil the whole thing for 10 minutes or so. Cool and strip as much meat as will easily come off. Then simmer the rest for 4 or 5 hours until the rest of the meat falls off. Once you have removed as much flesh as you can — you may need to pick it a bit — toss the collection of bones into a bowl filled with Drano, or equivalent drain cleaner. This stuff is primarily sodium hydroxide, or lye, with a little bleach. (It is also severely caustic, so don’t be stupid about it.) Completely submerge the bones in the liquid and let soak for at least a day. The lye should dissolve most of the remaining meat, and the bleach will whiten the bones when dried.   


Google for a guide to chicken anatomy. The one we found quickly was not quiet detailed enough to easily tell which side of the bone was up or down. We often had to puzzle it out and guess.  That’s part of the learning.


Lay out the pieces first to figure out the arrangement. Then start hot gluing. I strung a piece of 16 gauge wire through a cardboard base to use as the support of the vertebrae.  The wire slipped easily enough through the spinal cord holes in each vertebrae, yet was firm enough to keep the neck in position. 


Extra tiny bones at the end? So what?

An alternative procedure is to buy an extra pack of chicken feet and legs when you buy the chicken and then process these extra parts along with the whole chicken. Or get two chickens. You’ll then have enough legs and feet to make a pseudo-dinosaur. You can also re-arrange the bones anyway you want. Because of the detailing in the natural bones, the final model looks very authentic.

There’s even a book on how to do this.  T-Rex to Go: Build Your Own from Chicken Bones gets pretty elaborate about replicating  T-Rex  and other famous dinos. (An earlier version of the book is called "Make Your Own Dinosaur Out of Chicken Bones." which is the one I used.) Once we had the bones ready, it took an afternoon to hot glue it together. Sort of like assembling a machine, you learn a lot of how things work. "Oh, that’s what the spine does!"

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