Osteological Teaching Collection

Primate Stabilization Project

Teaching collections at the Peabody are actively used by students and faculty and require regular maintenance. This past year, Conservation and Osteology stabilized and rehoused the primate skeleton collection, numbering about 20 intact skeletons.

Chimpanzee skeleton before treatment Chimpanzee skeleton after rehousing

Chimpanzee skeleton before treatment.

Chimpanzee skeleton after rehousing.

The specimens needed to be rehoused using archival, acid-free materials in a new storage support system that would minimize shifting within the boxes and simultaneously facilitate access for teaching. Articulating the skeletons

according to left and right sides was favored, and the skull and appendicular sections also needed to be easily accessible, since they are used most frequently.

Chimpanzee skeleton after articulation

Chimpanzee skeleton after articulation.

 The stabilization and rehousing project first involved articulating the skeletons and cleaning all of the individual bones. A storage prototype (using inert, acid-free materials) was designed in a layered arrangement, allowing for the trays to stack inside of a larger storage box.

The bones within each tray are grouped together in categories such as: upper left limb bones; lower right limb bones; pelvis; and vertebrae (the latter are strung together to facilitate teaching demonstrations).

The skull is included in a separate box that fits inside of the top tray. Twelve vulnerable primate skeletons have been initially identified for treatment, and a guide detailing the stabilization and rehousing process has been created for future use. 

Gorilla skeleton before treatment Gorilla skeleton after conservation treatment

Gorilla skeleton before treatment.

Gorilla skeleton after conservation treatment.

Additional components of the primate stabilization project included work on three small mounted skeletons (a tree shrew, marmoset, and galago) and the conservation and remounting of an articulated gorilla skeleton and chimpanzee. Laura Lacombe, a 2008 summer intern, assisted with the project.

conservation staff remounting gorilla

Christie Pohl, Laura Lacombe, and Scott Fulton remounting the gorilla.