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How I rearticulated my badger skeleton, part two


As promised, here is part two of how I rearticulated my badger skeleton. By the time I'd got to the stage which was the end of last weeks post, the skeleton did not look good, but I knew from before that if everything is in roughly the right place it would all come together.

So in his week's post I will go through the final stages to finish it off and tidy it up so it looks nice. This week I am going to show you how I rearticulated the front legs, back legs, feet, the tail and the carpals, tarsals and phlanges. (If you want a step-by-step guide, see the one I wrote last year about my fox skeleton Vulpy)

This is ROUGHLY where I got to last week, with the spine completed, and the pelvis attached. You'll see the tail and shoulderblades are on in this picture, but I'll get to those in a minute.

Front legs

 This shows all the hidden wires on the leg. One of the things I don't like are big poles holding skeletons up, but it takes a lot of clever design to pin the leg bones together so to take the pins invisible.

This is the front left leg. The yellow lines show roughly where the drill holes and wires were to support it. The shoulder blades were done the same as Vulpy, with two wires behind the shoulder blades and attaching onto the spine, then these same wires coming through the shoulder socket and into the head of the humerus.

The elbow joint started off with a drilled hole through the other end of the humerus, going through the bottom of the ulna. The wire was then put in, and pushed into the hole, and the end of the hole being covered with a tiny bit of plaster to make it invisible. A second wire went at 45 degrees from the radius, straight through the end of the humerus and into the elbow end of the ulna. This second wire was completely hidden when the bones were assembled. Together, they made a very strong joint.

The way the two lower arm bones - the radius (shorter) and the ulna (with a hook on it) join can be a bit tricky. The radius almost rotates round the ulna slightly. The trick was to look for two slightly polished parts of the bones at the wrist end, which is where they went together. There is another wire which goes between these two, with a bit of glue on. The join is invisible once the bones are assembled.

There are more wires which attach to the wrist, I'll come to those in a minute, but I wrilled some holes through in preparation:

I used blu tac to hold the scapula and humerus together in the right position.  I then drilled two holes from the back of the scapula socket, down into the head of the humerus.

I used a picture on the internet as a guide to getting the right angle:

This shows how the wires pass through one scapula, wind round the spine, and bak down through the other scapula.

I had to use the wire to attach the shoulder blade to the spine because the scapulas don't articulate to any other bone, and are only held in place with muscle.

For the time being, I left the front legs off, but kept the scapulas attached to the spine.

Back legs

The knee joint is simple, and uses two bent wires hidden in the join:

I used two wires instead of one for support, just the same as Vulpy. I only has one patella (kneecap) so I didn't attach either.

This is the femur, tibia and fibula with the ankle joint at the bottom. The back legs are simpler than the front legs because the knee joint is far less complex. There are hidden wires and drilled holes which attach the fibula (thin lower leg bone) to the tibia (thick lower leg bone). The two loose bones at the bottom are the talus (closest to the leg) which acts like a hinge, and the calcaneous , which sticks out the back.

Unlike deer, they fit together in a non obvious way. It's easy to see how the talus connects with the tibia, but it's not so obvious how the calcaneous attaches to it. This was the best fit, which is when I remembered that shiny bits of bone connect to other shiny bits of bone.

Here are the shiny bits close up. They were helpful in connecting these two parts. I used glue, then drilled through the joint up into the tibia, where a wire would go into the baseboard and support the foot.


Wrists and ankle joints are a nightmare, made of tons of tiny bones that look like a broken plate. I did my best, but I an not guaranteeing that they are in the right order at all. This is how I started with the front paw attachments, with holes for four wires. There of the wires went forward, through the carpals (small wrist bones) and into the phlanges (fingers). The final hole in the wrist end of the ulna was used to attach a wire which went under the foot and into the baseboard to support it.

These are all the small ankle bones joined together. It may look good, but it's not in the right way at all.

Carpals, tarsals and phlanges

I actually started off by working on the toes at Christmas (see the tree behind) but it's long boring work. Like on Vulpy, one wire went through each "finger", joining the five bones in each digit of the paw. These were bent to the right angle.

You can see how perfectly all the toe bones fit together: These are the ankle end of the metatarsal bones (between knuckle and ankle) in the feet.

These are all the toes with the claws. I glued the claw bones onto the end of the final phlange.

This is the paw joined together, held with blu tac while the glue sets.

This is the front foot almost finished. The final holes drilled in the metacarpals would be used to attach it onto the carpals and front leg:

This is the full front leg when it was finished and glued:

This is how the final bit of wire behind held the foot in position, and supported the weight of the upper leg bones:

The tail

After I laid out the skeleton, I realised that the tail bones were missing. So I sent dad back to the wood, and he had to feel through all the scraps of rotten flesh and skin until he found them, then he had to cut that bit of skin off with an axe. Gross. Some of the tail bones were too thin to drill through, but he did as many as he could, and the end of the wire attached to the pelvis

So that is how I rearticulated my badger skeleton ! If I had more time I would have done it differently, but it was only finished the night before I had to travel up to BBC Winterwatch to show it off. It's not perfect, but I'm quite proud of it !

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Psydrache said...

It's an amazing work.
Badgers are cool animals and to own a skeleton of one must be a cool feeling, especially if you rearticualted it by yourself.
Found a badger skull a few days ago as well, I will write about it soon.

Jake said...

Cool find ! Yeah, it's nice looking at the skeleton, which is on a shelf by my bed.

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