Question: I came to the museum to see Phar Lap’s skeleton, but I was wondering - what are the brown bits on the skeleton?
Answer: We’re very excited to have Phar Lap’s skeleton visiting from Te Papa (New Zealand), as this is the first time that the hide and the skeleton have been reunited since the racing legend died in 1932.
The brown sections of Phar Lap’s skeleton are reconstructed sections of cartilage. The cartilage doesn’t preserve when skeletal remains are prepared for display so it usually rebuilt, especially between the ribs. The brown sections on the top of the scapula (shoulder blade) and the top of some of the dorsal processes (the top part of the back bones) are also representing cartilage that would eventually turn to bone. As Phar lap was a relatively young animal, the bones had not fully ossified.
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Hi Jerry - Neither, really! There's some debate as to whether viruses count as "alive" at all.
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