Komodo Dragon Preparation, Step 3: Cleaning and Articulating the Bones

Posted: March 19, 2013 - 16:32 , by Nicole Richards
Behind-the-scenes, Biodiversity, Collections | Comments (2) | Comment
A volunteer cleans the remaining tissue from the Komodo Dragon skull

The bugs in our infamous Bug Room here at the ROM did an amazing job cleaning our Komodo Dragon bones. However, there was still some manual cleaning required. Luckily, there were dozens of volunteers ready to assist in the process; removing pieces of tendon or dried bits of muscle that the Hide Beetles were just not interested in. 

Check out this YouTube video of the painstaking process.

However, even after all of this, there was still some fatty grease in the bones that would eventually leach out. If not removed this grease would attract bugs that like to eat many of the specimens in the museum’s collection. So the bones were sent away where a chemical process was used to remove this grease, so that Doni the Komodo Dragon could be safely returned to the museum.

Multiple vertebrae that are very clean after degreasing

Ultimately, all of those nicely cleaned, but disarticulated bones had to be put back together like a giant puzzle (and not a fun one I’ve been told). Making sure that the bones were all held together and that the Komodo Dragon mount would be stable over its long life in the gallery required careful planning, know-how, and the occasional power tool.  

A drill is used to prepare the ribs for attachment to the sternum

The result of all of this hard work clearly speaks for itself!

A taxidermist stands in front of the nearly complete Komodo Dragon skeleton


Comment by Lore

I had the distinct pleasure to "meet" Doni a few years when I visited the zoo, particularly to see the Komodos. I had sent an email regarding the exhibit, and met the gentleman who looked after them. I spent an interesting half hour with him admiring these amazing animals. He volunteered to take my camera behind the scenes where I think it was Doni basking in the sun away from the pesky tourists. I have some amazing photos. Sad though it is, that Doni had to die, he did his bit in perpetuating his species, and even now will be able to teach museum visitors. Rest in Peace, Doni!