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Special Specimen: skull deformity in a stillborn piglet

piglet with skull deformation

This little piggy was never going to make it to market, unfortunately.

Born without part of its skull and the brain or fluid protruding, it’s the only one we’ve ever seen here.  As far as we can tell everything else is completely normally developed, but you won’t really know until you perform a necropsy.

I have asked around for a name for this condition and if the Twitterverse sends one back to me I will post an update.  In the meantime,  if you would like to hear about these special specimens when they do pop up then join our What’s in Miss Vivi’s Freezer mailing list.


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A kidney like no other

porcine kidney with cyst

I came to work the other day to find this email waiting for me. I’m pleased to see that even when we get it wrong we sort of get it right.

“This is a shot of the dissection of one of the porcine kidneys we sourced from you. As you can see it has a cyst. It was fascinating and the girls (and the staff) learnt so much. When it was dissected, it used urine, so we assumed there was a blockage – perhaps a stone. The girls handled and felt the difference between the healthy flesh and the unhealthy. I thought you’d be interested in our lesson.”

porcine kidney with cyst
Porcine kidney with cyst

I’m not sure how we missed it when we were packing because we do check every organ that comes through, but in this case I’m glad we did.

Mr Vivi came back from a Chamber of Commerce talk the same day buzzing about this specky new machine they have at a nearby University. It allows the user to navigate and interact with all kinds of virtual environments – including body systems. I’m certain that it’s a fantastic, engaging and valuable educational tool but I’m just as certain that nothing is like experiencing the real thing in your hands.


Apr 10, 2014

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5 Things I Learned About Preparing Bones For Display

So, I thought it would be a good idea to prep a duck head and feet set to display the bones.  Sounds like a good idea, right?  You can make comparative anatomy displays for the classroom.  Fabulous!

I started with this:

duck head and feet set from Dissection Connection
Duck Head and Feet Set

Threw the lot into a pot and simmered it for about two days. It didn’t smell as bad as I thought it would. Kind of like soup.

5 things I learned about preparing bones for display:

  1. THIS KID is awesome
  2. Take as much of the skin, muscle and viscera off the bones as you can BEFORE you start.  Now I have spent at least an hour picking bits of meat and skin off tiny bones and checking meticulously that I haven’t missed anything.
  3. Put the separate pieces into SOMETHING before you start.  Bags made of old pantyhose would have done the trick.  Now I have no idea which bones belong to the left foot and which to the right foot.
  4. Cleaning bones and laying them out on a tray made me feel just like Temperance “BONES” Brennan – even though I had no idea what I was looking at most of the time.
  5. It was a VERY good idea not to throw the chicken head and feet into the pot at the same time!

As this kid laments, there is next to no info on the web about articulating bird skeletons.  I will definitely post a picture of the finished product with some more tips and tricks for you because you are going to be hard pressed to find it elsewhere.  Stay tuned, Vivsters.




Mar 28, 2014