moa moa

Karsten Hartel hartel at MCZ.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Nov 17 13:22:39 CST 1995

The following message is what generated my comment to TAXACOM this AM.  I
thought it came from TAXACOM but it must have arrived via NHCOLL.  A copy
of my reply is at the end.  KEH.  Sorry.

The message starts here...

At the Museum of New Zealand we have a mummified moa head which
was found in a dry cave some time early this century.  It has been dated
at approx. 700 years old.  Because of the rarity of this specimen it was
hydrated in a mixture of ethanol and glycerine to soften the flesh
for dissection.

We would now like to consider the possibility of drying the head so it
can be displayed in its original condition.

The glycerine won't evaporate off but it will dissolve in alcohol, so drying
would seem to require successive baths in alcohol.  Does
anyone have any experience or knowledge of the long term effects of
this mixture on skin and and also any methods and success of redrying?
We would like to return it as near as possible to its pre-hydrating

Please reply to:

Raymond Coory, Collection Manager
Museum of New Zealand, Wellington
raymondc at

This opens a general question of how far one might go to place a valuable
object on exhibit (I presume there are very few mummified moa heads
available to science) when that object might be "more" valuable in its wet
stage.  Once dried again, could it ever be rehydrated?  Why not make a
model of the head as it was found?

Just an idea.

Karsten E. Hartel
  Curatorial Associate, Fishes
  hartel at

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