Skeleton of stranded minke whale at Museum of Morphology

As reported previously, a minke whale stranded on the beach of Nieuwpoort earlier this year (read more about it here). ‘Eugene’ was transported to the University of Liège for autopsy and then to the Museum of Morphology in Ghent for further anatomical investigation and skeleton preservation. 

 

Only a couple of months later, the skeleton can be admired at the Museum of Morphology. The procedure was not a sinecure! Because of the young age of the animal (1 year), the skeleton contained a lot of cartilage, challenging the conservation. Standard procedures involve steps at high temperatures, which would however have dissolved the cartilage, forcing the researchers to work with so-called even more difficult ‘cold techniques’. All flesh was first removed manually, during 2 full days with 5 people. The remnant flesh was macerated with sodium hypochlorite. The bones still contained high amounts of blood, which was removed using hydrogen peroxide. The final preparatory step was the ‘degreasing’ of the bones following the in-house procedure. CT-images were used as anatomically correct reference material to make ‘the puzzle’ and helped the researchers to reconstruct the skeleton.

 

You can visit the Museum of Morphology (free entrance) and admire ‘Eugene’ on weekdays, between 8h30 and 17h. Tours are available on request.