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Dissection Collection: Anatomy Colouring Books

dissection connection dog skull anatomical colouring in worksheet
Dissection Connection dog skull anatomical colouring-in worksheet

Mr Vivi spotted an anatomy colouring book on the internet and just had to have it.  I wasn’t convinced but it duly arrived in the letterbox – and WOW!  What a resource!  We’ve got a collection now and we’re stocking books and flashcards for you.

Anatomical colouring in is normally pitched at tertiary students but we’ve chosen resources that will be suitable for secondary or even upper primary level.  Colouring-in is fun and appeals to all levels and types of learners, diagrams reinforce the relationship of one body part to another and colouring-in highlights the details of anatomy as well as the big picture.  Colour coding is a tried and true method for many different industries so the skills learned can be applied elsewhere, assists in memorising parts of the body, developing motor skills, is a fun mathematics activity for sequential numbering and numeral identification and introduces new vocabulary to enhance science literacy.

Email me if you’d like to see some sample images.

Miss Vivi

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NEW: Cane toads come to Dissection Connection


To help satisfy the demand for whole animal specimens we’ve decided to stock cane toads. Mr Vivi has been collecting and packaging toads all summer and we now have a freezer full of the hoppers. They are packaged individually and identified by sex. So, consult the current price list and choose whether you want boys or girls. Available until they run out and collection starts again in spring.

male and female dorsal
Cane toads. Female on the left, male on the right. Notice the distinctive markings which can be partially used to sex a toad.



A cane toad dissection allows the biology teacher to cover many aspects of body systems including, skeleton, musculature, heart and arterial, venous, digestive and respiratory, urogenital and nervous systems in a series of practicals using the same specimen. Dissection Connection stocks cane toads with a snout vent length (SVL) of over 80mm that have been sexed and packaged as individual male and female specimens. In stock soon, ‘The Zoology Coloring Book’ by Lawrence M. Elson to compliment your class.

You can also find dissection resources online:, and


Many methods have been suggested. Step-wise cooling and freezing was for some time the recommended method but recent work has found this method can cause distress and pain to the animal evidenced by behavioural responses to this and other methods. One of the mechanisms that cause pain in this method includes freezing in the blood, producing ice crystals that are transported around the vascular system and cause pain.

A joint project between The Australian Government, The New South Wales Government and The University of Wollongong (CAN001 Methods for the field euthanasia of cane toads, T. Sharp, A. Lothian, A. Munn and G. Saunders: 2011) found the preferred methods were:

  1. stunning followed by decapitation
  2. gassing with carbon dioxide (CO2) for >4 hours

Due to the numbers handled and the requirement for an intact specimen for dissection, Dissection Connection has opted for method 2, gassing with CO2.

This CO2 euthanasia SOP is that recommended on the Queensland DETE animal ethics website and by Biosecurity QLD.  We follow the procedures in the original scientific paper which outlines a number of extra steps that DETE don’t mention.

Specimen preparation

After successful euthanasia, toads are measured. Only those with minimum snout-vent-length (SVL) of 80mm are kept. Toads are sexed as per Narayan, Christi, Morely and Trevenen (2008) based on external morphological features and presence/absence of vocal sac openings in the mouth.

Toads are then set in trays, frozen overnight and vacuum packed.

Workplace health and safety

Use nitrile or chemical gloves to handle, NOT vinyl gloves for handling toads. I used vinyl gloves for about half an hour handling dead toads, my fingers were tingling for about an hour afterwards.

Nitrile gloves should be used when handling dead toads and conducting dissections as toxins may be present on the skin of the toad.

Have fun with this, it’s a great dissection!

Mr Vivi


Narayan, E., Christi, K., Morely, C., and Trevenen, P. (2008). Sexual dimorphism in the cane toad Bufo marinus: a quantitative comparison of visual inspection methods for sexing individuals. Herpetological Journal 18: 63-65.

Sharp, T., Lothian, A., Munn, A.  and Saunders, G. (2011). CAN001 Methods for the field euthanasia of cane toads

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Special specimen: what holds a pig up?

What holds a pig up?  The internal skeletal system in the Kingdom Animalia, sub-Phylum Vertebrata, which includes mammals (pigs), fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds has many functions.

Cervical vertebra. Includes 7 cervical vertebra (atlas, 2-7), 4 thoracic vertebra and the first 4 sternal ribs. There are always 7 cervical vertebra in pigs (and humans). In Figure 1 you can see the spinal cord and vertebral disks too!

Porcine cervical vertebra
Figure 1. Cervical vertebra. Articular and transverse processes on the lateral side of this specimen (hidden) minimise excessive bending of the neck, protecting the spinal cord.

Thoracic vertebra. The specimen shown in Figure 2 includes 9 thoracic vertebra, ribs, vertebral disks and spinal cord. The number of thoracic vertebra varies between pig breeds from 13-17. Where do the ribs attach to the vertebra? Find out this one time only, $6.00.

Figure 2. Thoracic vertebra with elongated dorsal spines.
Figure 2. Thoracic vertebra with elongated dorsal spines.

Figure 3 shows the shoulder joint. It includes the scapula, humerus and fused radius and ulna. One only in stock at the moment, $6.50. If you need more than one Miss Vivi can order these for you.

Porcine Shoulder joint
Figure 3. Shoulder joint with humerus and fuses radius/ulna.

Loin chop (Figure 4). NOT FOR SALE – it’s for Mr Vivi’s dinner. But you can see the elongated transverse process on the lumbar vertebra (the bone pointing to 8 o’clock) that supports the strong muscle (yummy meaty bit) that in turn supports the viscera in the abdominal cavity.

Figure 4. Loin chop showing elongated transverse process. The muscle above the process is the loin, the smaller muscle below the process is the tenderloin. muscle
Figure 4. Loin chop showing elongated transverse process. The muscle above the process is the loin, the smaller muscle below the process is the tenderloin muscle.

Pig tail (Figure 5). Tail bones are called caudal bones. The number of caudal bones varies between species of pig between 20 and 23. How many does this one have? Find out for $5.00

Figure 5. Pig tail.
Figure 5. Pig tail.

See how all the bits fit together on this model  in Figure 6.

Figure 6. Porcine pig skeleton model.
Figure 6. Porcine pig skeleton model.

If you have the need for bone specimens for a class in science or physical education, get in contact with Miss Vivi as she can source a wide range of specimens as a special order.