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'Rearing Horse With Rider,' Plastinated Horse, Debuts In Times Square, Body Worlds Exhibit (PHOTOS)

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BODY WORLDS
Andy Campbell / Huffington Post

This horse lost by a hair -- almost all of its hair. And skin.

New Yorkers got a sneak peek Wednesday of "Rearing Horse With Rider," a plastinated steed created by Dr. Gunther von Hagens for his BODY WORLDS exhibit.

The 12-foot-tall behemoth of a horse, whose rider is also on display, is completely skinless and preserved by a process called plastination. Its bones, muscles and anatomical structures are intact and separated for a scientific -- and just plain awesome -- never-before-seen view of the animal. In Times Square, kids went crazy for the pony.

"It's intriguing," said 15-year-old Mohamed Gueye, said. "Most people fail to realize the underlying structure of an organism. It's very interesting."

Von Hagens, who claims to have invented the plastination process that halts decomposition, was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's unfinished bronze sculpture of a horse. He spent three years crafting the piece to add it to his permanent exhibition, BODY WORLDS: PULSE, at Discovery Times Square. You can see the whole exhibit, which puts all parts of the human -- and now animal -- body on display, in New York City.

PHOTOS (story continues below):

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He learned his craft while serving as a resident at the Institute of Pathology and Anatomy at Heidelberg University. He writes:

"I was looking at a collection of specimens embedded in plastic. It was the most advanced preservation technique then, where the specimens rested deep inside a transparent plastic block. I wondered why the plastic was poured and then cured around the specimens rather than pushed into the cells, which would stabilize the specimens from within and literally allow you to grasp it."

In plastination, bodies are embalmed and dissected, and "all bodily fluids and soluble fat in the specimens are then extracted and replaced through vacuum-forced impregnation with reactive resins and elastomers such as silicon rubber and epoxy," Von Hagens says.

All bodies in the exhibit are from deceased folks who wanted their bodies to be donated to science. The horse probably didn't get to decide, but representatives for the exhibit said that the horse was privately donated after his "euthanasia due to critical injury from broken limbs."