Archive for July, 2012

You know the drill- tell me what you can about this rather messy dissected specimen from The Freezers. What are the structures shown? Identification to genus/species level is probably not possible, but try to pin down the group of organisms it is from as tightly as you can:

Edit: This post had a Stomach-Churning Rating of 5/10. So you were probably safe anyway; if not, share your tale of revulsion in the Comments. 🙂

Edit edit: The specimen is revealing more here; this may or may not help:


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And so we return to the series of posts on non-frozen, but still anatomically awesome, specimens from the RVC’s Anatomy Museum. Refer to posts on dissections, skulls and the introduction if you missed the last three.

Today is for the birds. Feel free to cry fowl if you feel this post is a poultry sum of images. Oh I could go on with lame puns, but I am merciful…

We’ll start with what is presumably not a Norwegian Blue; presumably neither resting and certainly bereft of beautiful plumage, but nonetheless a remarkable bird and great fodder for a wide range of silly jokes:

Which provides us with a segue into our series of nicely mounted skeletons of domestic poultry, first with the super-sized American variety termed Meleagris:

And then with the less titanic but still impressive, fast-growing, large-breasted Gallus:

Which is a reminder of the non-defunct poultry that the RVC maintains, including a sporadic series of chickens that our lab hosts for our research (blog to come soon!), first shown in the fluffy 2 week old stage:

And what a difference 2 weeks makes!

But back to the museum. Perhaps in sympathy for the plight of broiler chickens, a local raptor hangs, wings akimbo, to display various external features:

Plodding along, and missing the cranial end of the skeleton in this photo (in John’s typical photography/research style; d’oh!) is a nice big Maribou stork:

Keeping the birds company is a fellow archosaur, which reminds me of WIJF’s previous post on pelvic differences in archosaurs; here an Alligator:

Nearby there is an ostrich pelvis for a similar comparison as in the latter post. And not far from that is a nice view of an ostrich foot, along with other birds’ feet in a display on perching/pedal adaptations:

For a really stunning image of an ostrich foot, check out this plastinated specimen (more pics like it here). We really like ostriches, so we also have an ostrich head and neck:

These ratite displays remind me of our emu flock that we are maintaining (not at the museum!), which is 13 strong at the moment and very cute at ~8 weeks of age (intriguingly, a similar ~3kg body mass to a 6-week old broiler chicken! But much leggier.):

If you happen to visit the Anatomy Museum to peruse plastinated poultry or oggle other oddities, save time for a stroll to the nearby Grant Museum of Zoology; one of London’s greatest natural history treasures (edit- see recent TetZoo blog post on this) — and one that is drenched in history. Great flightless bird exhibits, too, such as this kiwi:

Or a stunning assortment of dodo bones:

Or, coming full circle, an emu (or so I think… naughty John’s headless-photo bias at play again!).

And the emu will escort you to the exit. Thanks for visiting! We’re nearing the end of this series, so I hope you have enjoyed it.

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Unknown CT slice

Such deep dark secrets you hold

Hiding in grayscale

Provide your answer in haiku (HU-ku for CT scan geeks!), or suffer great shame!

(answer now posted in the comments– check out the CRAZY pathology on the left jaw joint though!)

Some comparisons: first a pathological animal, then a non-pathological one. Ignore the bad segmentation job I’ve done around the eyes (thin bone region) and other areas– focus on the jaw. Also, the lack of ossicones is an age/gender issue, not pathology! The jaw arthrosis (fusion of joint; probably infection involved) is clearest in the preview image or if you pause the video at a half revolution.

Pathological left jaw (bone has grown around temporomandibular joint)

More normal jaw (and lack of ossicones/horns; probably a female since the rest of the skull is fairly mature)

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You behaved very well with the Mystery CT Slices #3; I was not lynched; so I can reward you for your exquisite mercy with another peering into the RVC’s Anatomy Museum. Yay! As promised, I will now present our fabulous collection of pre-dissected, preserved specimens.

Stomach-Churning Rating: 5/10; for dog lovers perhaps 7/10. I suppose I should enact this SCR system for all blog posts now?

First, a view down the main hall of dissected specimens (note nice blue carpet and bright green door? RVC likes colour sometimes.):

Next, some of those specimens, pertaining in particular to cranial appendages of the canine variety, in two adjacent shelving units (click to embiggen— all images in these posts tend to have substantially larger images you can view):


Zooming in on one such canine specimen, emphasizing the jaws and cranial nerves as well as larynx:

Next it would be apropos to reveal the inner anatomy of the jaw muscles (pterygoids!!! trigeminal nerve!) and neck/pharynx/CNS tissues:

And moving on to the upper part of dog necks and their associated muscles, nerves and other tissues that help support the head/larynx:

I would be remiss at this point if I did not show the main nervous system of a dog that runs from the head down to the rump:

Followed by the upper forelimb and lower hind limb dissections of humans’ best friend:

And now any dog lovers can stop panting and take a breather. Go for walkies?

I have horse feet to show instead:

Then I present you with a gorgeous corrosion cast from a mammal whose identity I am not certain of right now (will add later– sheep??) (EDIT: No, pig; a lung “triple cast”):

…and now a specimen that at first glance I thought was some sort of parasite, but the label tells the story (ID pending– cow/horse?from a pig):

Animal Inside Out/Bodyworlds doesn’t hold the monopoly on plastination; we do it too (I must remember to learn how to do this soon!):

Enough musculoskeletal system; I know you all come here for the guts, right? Goat stomach compartments (the reticulum region), as an exemplar of the famed (but inaccurately described) “four-stomach” digestive system of ruminant mammals- not 4 stomachs, but 4 compartments that divide the labour of digestion (including bacterial fermentation):

Bah, enough synapsids! Deep inside, every anatomist might secretly be coveting the dinosaurian digestive tract, here represented by a goose’s guts:

Since we’re really delving into the gooey bits now, how about the reproductive system of a hen, with a perspective across its ontogeny?

Dinosaurs, mammals; get over it! You and me, baby, we ain’t nothing but gnathostomes:

Like fish heads? Try shark brains (nice myosepta also evident here):

Whatever taxon floats your boat, the RVC’s Anatomy Museum has something for you, inside and out! Anyone still with me at this point can probably agree- we all heart anatomy:

Stay tuned for more Mystery CT Slices, museum tours (including a different museum, soon), and even more!

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John, 2 mystery pictures!?!?! That’s not fair! We’ll be up for weeks puzzling over these!

Aww, deal with it. 😉

Is there a connection between these images; a clue or two; or am I just messing with you and they have nothing to do with one another? Take a gander. Take your best shot. Or take a hike!

Tell me as much as you can about the top (Mystery A) and/or bottom (Mystery B) images. Difficulty level: Integrative Anatomist.

Bon chance!


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Last time I gave a quick overview of the museum and anatomy’s long history at the RVC. I’ll cover some of the cool skulls we have on display first, then in future posts the dissected specimens, then some of the neat birds and other exotic animals, and I’ll return to bones with a general overview of rockin’ skeletons at the end. Or something like that order. I am a fickle beast and might do otherwise. On with the show then!

So, skulls… I dread talking about skulls. As people on my research team know, I have at least one Cardinal Rule: I don’t work on skulls or heads. Except maybe skulls of Cardinals? Skull anatomy is too complex for my feeble old mind to grasp, and there are too many people working on them that are really great scientists, so I feel I have little to contribute to that area. But I do appreciate them, even if with a glazed look of apprehension and lack of comprehension. 🙂

It may not surprise you to learn that we have dog skulls in our vet anatomy museum, but you might be impressed by the selection! We have a case full of a diverse set of domestic breeds and non-domestic species (fox, wolf, etc.) of canids, shown above. There is bound to be a good research project in there somewhere- the plasticity of dog skeletons under humans’ artificial selection has done some amazing, and disturbing, stuff, especially to skulls and heads!

But I’m a cat lover and, lest the felids get jealous and enact their final vengeance upon us all, let me move quickly to our felid skull collection:

Yep, not just domestic cats but a nice assortment of lions, tigers and other hypercarnivorous predators! Many from local zoos, especially London Zoo over the past centuries/decades.

Not to be outdone, the ungulates are braying for predationattention, so let’s give them some love:

With some requisite horses thrown in but also quite a few exotic species! And right next to them is another case full of coneheads:

With one prominent member that definitely deserves a closeup, since giraffes are what got this blog started, and this is a lovely old ?male? specimen with honking big ossicones:

Don’t worry old bean, your artiodactyl chum the hippo is keeping you company, pip pip!

Look closely at the right side of the mandible (lower jaw) of that hippo and observe the lumpy bit in the middle of the jaw, which would be inside the cheek in life. That is apparently (I am no skull pathologist by any stretch) an impacted or otherwise severely wonky tooth, and it shows some signs of having been operated on, presumably to keep it from puncturing the cheek or getting infected. Ouch! (For comparison see this more normal, more toothsome skull) It is unilateral (just right side) so I presume this is a sound, if rough, diagnosis. Anyway, stunning skull nonetheless!

Stunning as that may be, archosaurs aren’t going to take this skull-off lying down! Here is one of our crocodylian species; an American Alligator (I think, but I know if I am wrong one of my readers will steer me to an alternative ID, presumably a common caiman, which I know we also have, along with a Tomistoma), with a turtle and python cowering behind it:

Indeed, some Alligator teeth,  with a horse jaw on display, make a lovely halo-like effect when viewed from a certain angle, in a set of shelves devoted to the diversity of tooth forms and functions:

But let’s get real, folks. Fish (OK systematists, non-tetrapod vertebrate) skulls could be said to blow away the diversity of tetrapod skulls. Or at least that’s what the wolffish is trying to tell us, from his vantage point in a display about jaws and ears (more evolutionary context, yay!):

And because I am not one to argue with a wolffish, I will let him have the last word. Hope you enjoyed another quick tour! I’ve only scratched the surface of our selection of skulls; there are plenty more good ones, so come visit sometime!

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