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Vertebrates (final preparation)

  • To enhance the value of our specimens to various disciplines of biology, we prepared some as traditional skins stuffed with cotton, others as skins with complete or mostly complete skeletons or formalin-fixed carcasses, and as "wraps," specimens pickled in formalin and wrapped in cheesecloth to prevent contamination by micro-arthropods from other specimens. 
  • Removing the carcass, filling the body with cotton, sticks (birds), and wire (mammals), and labeling typically took 30-60 minutes. The study skin was then pinned to a drying board, while the skull and/or carcass was soaked in ethanol (to dehydrate the muscle) or injected and placed in 10% formalin. The final stage of specimen preparation--cleaning bones--is completed back at the Museum.
  • Often, we took advantage of bilateral symmetry, leaving one hand and foot on the museum skin, and preserving the other pair as part of the skeleton or carcass. This allows study of external characters and appendicular skeletons and/or foot-pads.
  • Tissue samples were taken from heart, lung, liver, kidney and spleen and stored in liquid nitrogen to permit future genetic studies of this diversity.
  • Stomach contents and feces were preserved for study of diets and trophic relationships. 
  • Embryos were preserved to provide resources for studying development and ontogeny.

<Image1>Sergio skinning a mouse.

<Image2>In camp preparing specimens.