Is This a Hedgehog Skeleton?

A purported photograph of a hedgehog skeleton is often met with a mix of skepticism and awe.

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Claim

A photograph shows a complete hedgehog skeleton.

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Origin

A photograph supposedly showing the skeleton of a hedgehog is often met with a mixture of awe and skepticism as it circulates on social media:

This is a genuine photograph showing the remains of a deceased hedgehog. However, it’s not completely accurate to label this display as a hedgehog skeleton, as the pictured quills are not part of the animal’s skeletal system. Quills are composed of keratin, the same stuff our hair and fingernails are made of, and would decompose if not artificially preserved by a taxidermist.

The above-displayed picture shows the work of Russian taxidermist Маргариты Чайки (Margarita Chayka), from whom VK user Anastasia Fyodorova commissioned three pieces after her pet hedgehogs passed away. Fyodorova posted several images of these displays to her page on the Russian social media network VK in June 2018 along, with a message thanking Chayka for her stellar work:

I want to express my gratitude to the person who approached the creation of these works with full responsibility and great professionalism.

Margo, thank you! You were able to fulfill my order exactly as I wanted it, bringing in each exhibit my own zest.

Your work as a taxidermist is truly priceless and multifaceted. I wish you success in this, not all and not always clear, business.

One of the photographs shared by Fyodorova shows all three of the displays created by Chayka. The first pictures a normal hedgehog skeleton, the second shows a specimen featuring both the skeleton and the quills, and the final display features a stuffed hedgehog:

The VK Таксидермия (Taxidermy) page has more detailed images of the hedgehog skeleton, the skeleton with quills, and the stuffed hedgehog.

A similar specimen can be viewed at the Horniman Museum in London. The museum explained that these “doubleprep” specimens, which are half-skeletal and half-taxidermy, were used as educational tools in the early 20th Century:

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Sources

San Diego Zoo.   “Hedgehog.”
    Retrieved 3 July 2019.