The pheasant comes apart

March 26, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I was given a pheasant, which I reduced to science and food. When we last saw it, it was down to a skinned and partially defleshed head/neck and feet. It’s been through a couple of defleshing rounds since then, and today I was able to take it fully apart:

2016-03-26 12.31.09

At the moment, the bits are laid out on this plate, drying. Small amounts of soft-tissue remain (and more on the second foot), which may need the attentions of invertebrates to fully clean.

It pains me to admit, but even though I have kept the cervical vertebrae, for most people the skull will be the interesting part. Here it is in a little more detail, disarticulated into about ten units. The mandible is to the right of this image; the rostrum to the left of it, and the main cranial section to the left again:

2016-03-26 12.31.47

To the sides are the bones that laterally connect the rostrum to the braincase: zygomatics, quadrates and what have you. They are laid out roughly in the right positions, though the two quadrates may have been switched. Once everything is clean and dry, I’ll glue it back together, using my ostrich skull to help guide me.

The feet are trickier. Here’s the one I took apart:

 

2016-03-26 12.31.35

At the top of the photo, you see a mass of ossified tendons, which operated the toes from more proximal areas. This is how all bird feet work, and it’s such a great scheme that it seems weird everything doesn’t do it.

Below these, we have the tarsometatarsus to the right, and the four digits to the left. Each digit has its phalanges in the right order, but I don’t know what order the digits themselves should be in. To help me get that right, I pulled out of prepping the other foot down, hence its current semi-zombified state:

2016-03-26 12.31.23

I’m hoping it’s still intact enough to guide me as a reassemble the bones of the other foot. (Once that’s done, I may also take this one to completion, or I may decide that one pheasant foot is enough.)

Anyway, it’s nice to be progressing this specimen. Next, I need to figure out the best way to decapitate a medium-sized mammal (like a fox or badger) without damaging the skull, and using no special equipment.

Advertisements

9 Responses to “The pheasant comes apart”

  1. Lars Dietz Says:

    “Each digit has its phalanges in the right order, but I don’t know what order the digits themselves should be in.”

    Based on the number of phalanges, they are, from bottom to top, digits 1,3,4,2.

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    Seriously? I assumed the tiny one at the bottom had to be a hallux.

  3. ijreid Says:

    I know enough on dinosaur anatomy to know that it should be (from bottom to top in the picture) the spur, phalanx and ungulate of hallux, 2 phalanges and ungulate of 2nd digit, 3 phalanges and ungulate of 3rd digit, and 4 phalanges and ungulate of 4th digit – so formula (only for digits) of 2-3-4-5.

  4. Lars Dietz Says:

    “Seriously? I assumed the tiny one at the bottom had to be a hallux.”

    Yes, that’s what I said, it’s a hallux (digit 1).


  5. > zygomatics

    No.

    > Next, I need to figure out the best way to decapitate a medium-sized mammal (like a fox or badger) without damaging the skull, and using no special equipment.

    Take a knife or scalpel, disconnect the head and the atlas-axis from the rest of the spinal column by skinning, then defleshing. It’s pretty easy. The atlas is easy to cut free from the head when you don’t have the entire rest of the spinal column in the way.

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    “Yes, that’s what I said, it’s a hallux (digit 1).”

    Oh yes, I see — from bottom to top. I skipped that specification, and assumed top to bottom.

    So: you say 1, 3, 4, 2 from bottom to top; ijreid says 1, 2, 3, 4, based on phalanx count. Who is right?

  7. pfalkingham Says:

    It’s 1, 3, 4, 2, Mike [bottom to top]. Digit number is the same as the number of phalanges in that digit, so digit I has 1, Digit II has 2, etc.

  8. ijreid Says:

    No, I stand by my original interpretation, for an image of a bird with a similar foot, see http://www.mirrorservice.org/sites/gutenberg.org/3/8/3/1/38315/38315-h/images/illo113.png. In theropods and birds, the digit bone count almost indisputably ALWAYS increases from inside to outside, I don’t know why, but that is the way it is.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: