The article misstated the first name of a man whose skeleton was put on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. The late scientist's name is Grover Krantz.
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Natural History Museum Grants Professor's Dying Wish: A Display of His Skeleton
Rhymer, 46, who is also a sculptor and usually works on such animals as foxes, monkeys and penguins, agreed to try. He taped up a copy of the photo of Krantz and Clyde, and took the bones, which were in boxes and plastic bags, to his museum workshop. And over several months last fall and winter he brought them to life.
He used power tools, hacksaws and a thick book on human anatomy. He got and took lots of advice. He drilled minute holes in the bones, wired ribs together and constructed the delicate, almost invisible, scaffolding on which the skeletons rest.
"It was like a jigsaw puzzle," he said. "But it was like putting two together at the same time and having them meet somewhere in the middle."
He altered the two poses slightly from the photograph to avoid any impression that Krantz was being attacked by the dog, and to more clearly suggest a "joyful interchange."
Clyde, being a familiar "four-footer" to the taxidermist, was easier to assemble. Rhymer started with Krantz.
He began with the bones and scaffolding of the spine, and worked his way out. The skull was easy. The ribs wouldn't cooperate. Bones were missing in the hands and feet.
Rhymer soon realized that the bones all fit together in a logical way. "It takes a while to figure out, after you've messed with these things, which notches fit in with what notch," he said. "There's no way I could have put the vertebrae in the wrong order. It just wouldn't have fit."
Gradually Krantz took shape.
"Once I had him from his pelvis, and I had his head on, and I had him at what I thought was going to be the right height, I thought, 'Okay, this is going to work,' " Rhymer said.
Earlier this month, with the museum thronged with spring tourists, there was an array of reactions to Krantz and Clyde.
"Freaky!" said one young visitor.
"Amazing," said a fifth-grade teacher.
"That is a big dog," said a woman.
"That is a big person," said a little girl. "Looks like he's smiling.