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The skeleton of racehorse Phar Lap has shrugged off its poor posture and is again standing proud in New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa.
After months of work restructuring the bones, the mighty race horse skeleton will be on display again from Saturday in Wellington. The skeleton was loaned to the Melbourne Museum in 2010, and displayed alongside the hide for the first time.
It was originally arranged in 1938 by Dominion Museum staff who were not experts in equine anatomy, and a series of minor errors meant the skeleton did not quite match the enormous physique of Phar Lap in his prime. The skeleton has been re-articulated, with help from retired Massey University associate professor of veterinary anatomy Alex Davies, who had earlier criticised the skeleton as being badly mounted.
Phar Lap was "a freak of nature" and was such a large horse that re-articulating the skeleton meant new discoveries were made about horse anatomy, Te Papa Museum spokesman Phil McGrath told NZ Newswire.
However, not all of Phar Lap has been accounted for, as the skeleton is missing the seven hyoid arch bones in the neck. Most horses have 18 tail bones but Phar Lap had just 16.
Born at Seadown, near Timaru, New Zealand, in 1926, "Big Red" was bought by the Sydney-based American businessman David J Davis in 1928, and was trained and raced in Australia. In the four years of his racing career, Phar Lap - whose heart was 50 per cent bigger than a normal horse's - won 37 of 51 races, including the Melbourne Cup in 1930.
He won his only race in America before dying there in mysterious circumstances.
Below is a timelapse video showing the reconstruction of Phar Lap's skeleton. A life-sized photograph of the hide from Melbourne Museum was used as a guide. See Phar Lap on display at Te Papa from 17 March 2012.
- Visit the Australian Geographic website
- Visit the Te Papa Museum website and read more about the reconstruction of Phar Lap's skeleton
- Don't miss your chance to own fabulous Phar Lap memorabilia
Story: Australian Geographic
Photo: Te Papa Museum