Fake plastic skeletons have been popping up in shops for Halloween, but Hautapu School student Chantal Taylor has the real deal.
She and her dad have just spent three months rebuilding 207 bovine bones into a complete skeleton, dubbed “Mrs Cow”.
Chantal, who has been fascinated by bones since she can remember, found the deceased beast earlier this year during a visit to her grandmother’s Hawke’s Bay farm.
“I was looking out for bones and I spotted the skeleton in the grass,” she said. “I was really, really excited.”
The nine-year-old packed the bones into a box, brought them home and convinced her father Will to help put the unusual 3D jigsaw back together.
With Will’s help, she and her seven-year-old sister Lucia researched cow anatomy online and “spent hours and hours” using veterinary textbooks to label and order the bones.
“I didn’t really have a plan for exactly how it was going to go; we just started with the spine and used the diagrams to try and get the shape,” said Will, who used his engineering skills to build a stainless steel frame and wheeled trolley for the bona fide bovine.
The dedicated dad drilled holes in all 207 bones and used stainless steel pins and glue to connect them together, even making a special trip back to Hawke’s Bay to source missing pieces. The skeleton is now complete, minus a few teeth.
Will estimated the project had taken 80 hours and said he was “very relieved” to finish Mrs Cow in time to take her to Hautapu School’s Ag Day, where she was a big hit.
He would eventually like to offer the skeleton to other schools to use as a teaching resource.
He said constructing Mrs Cow had been an “awesome educational process” for his daughters and they had “learnt a huge amount about not only cow anatomy but anatomy in general”.
“I look around and I think we don’t really need more rugby players, we don’t need more politicians, but we could really do with more scientists,” he said.
“If I can interest not only our kids, but other kids, in that stuff and encourage their inquisitiveness then that’s awesome and who knows where they might take it?”
The last challenge for the family is figuring out where to put their eye-catching creation. Chantal is adamant it should live in the lounge. And while Mrs Cow might be handy for Halloween, Chantal’s mum Nadine thinks she might also make a cool Christmas tree.