This was once a piece of rattan wood
A novel - and natural - way of creating new bones for humans could be just a few years away.
Scientists in Italy have developed a way of turning rattan wood into bone that is almost identical to the human tissue.
At the Istec laboratory of bioceramics in Faenza near Bologna, a herd of sheep have already been implanted with the bones.
The process starts by cutting the long tubular rattan wood up into manageable pieces.
It is then snipped into even smaller chunks, ready for the complex chemical process to begin.
The pieces are put in a furnace and heated.
In simple terms, carbon and calcium are added.
The wood is then further heated under intense pressure in another oven-like machine and a phosphate solution is introduced.
After about 10 days, the rattan wood has been transformed into the bone-like material.
The team is lead by Dr Anna Tampieri.
Within months, the real and artificial bone will have fused
"It's proving very promising," she says. "This new bone material is strong, so it can take heavy loads that bodies will put on it.
"It is also durable, so, unlike existing bone substitutes, it won't need replacing."
Several types of wood were tested before they found rattan works best.
That is because of its structure and porous properties, which enable blood, nerves and other compounds to travel through it.
Dr Tampieri says it is the closest scientists have ever come to replicating the human bone because, she says: "It eventually fuses with real bone, so in time, you don't even see the join."
The new wood bone is being closely studied at the nearby Bologna University hospital.
That is where orthopaedic surgeons like Maurillo Marcacci are monitoring the sheep tests.
The X-rays of the sheep's legs show the progress they are making.
A strong, durable, load-bearing bone is really the holy grail for surgeons like me and for patients
Particles from the sheep's own bones are migrating to the bone made from wood.
Within a few months, the real and the artificial bone will be like one continuous bone.
Mr Marcacci says that existing bone substitutes, like metal or ceramic, or bones from dead bodies, all have their drawbacks.
He says for people with major trauma accidents or cancer, the current range of alternatives can be weak and do not fuse with the existing bone.
The new wood bones, he says, could be a major step forward.
"A strong, durable, load-bearing bone is really the holy grail for surgeons like me and for patients," he says.
The new bone-from-wood programme is being funded by the European Union.
Implants into humans are about five years away.
But with no signs of rejection or infection in the sheep, there is real hope here that a natural, cheap and effective replacement for bones is now possible.
Bones from wood could soon be opening up a new branch of medical science.
News from BBC
*The tale 0f you and I*
you gave walking sticks to others
yet you yourself were limping
you offered a lending hand
but it was you who needed help
you wore shields and armours
but it wasnt the outside that needed protection
you claimed others as foes and threats
yet you stabbed your very own heart
you blamed the time for being envious
was it not you who made the clock?
you walked the road with glitters and jewels
but back in home you slept on dirt
you conquered the lands and the oceans and skies
yet you moaned and screamed in dreams
you were the king of glorious men
but you were held captive of unseen strings
you claimed yourself a proud free man
yet you were chained to your old ventriloquist>
"By the power of Truth...."