Posted on

Dissection Collection: reproductive dissection is serious science fun

bovine testicle being dissected

I just wanted to let you know how much serious, Science fun we had last day of term.
We had a teacher who was a vet nurse do the dissection so she knew a lot about it all. We had many guest students, teachers and staff come to observe as everyone was so fascinated.
Definitely a worthwhile science activity!!

– Jo Kerry, Miami SHS

At this time of year it can seem like the entire curriculum is falling down on top of you.  It’s a few weeks until the end of the year, you’ve got content to finish teaching, revision to fit in, exams to write and mark, graduation ceremonies, reporting…. the list is endless and you still have to turn up for rostered playground duty.

It is very easy to decide not to squeeze in an extra activity and nobody would blame you.  But sometimes something special is just what the school needs at this time of year.

We had a couple of very large porcine uterus arrive unexpectedly.  I couldn’t tell if they were pregnant, but they were certainly bigger than anything I had seen before.  One school made the time in their day to include a dissection of the uterus and a bovine penis specimen as well and the response was fantastic.

As word spread about the impending spectacle other classes asked to come.  When the reception staff were forewarned about the delivery they asked if they could watch too.  On the day questions were thrown thick and fast and every single person in the room went away with at least one piece of information about their reproductive system that they didn’t know before.  Can you imagine the conversations at dinner tables all around the coast that night?  “What did you do at school today, son?”…..



 30 Nov 2015

Posted on

Special Specimens: it’s a heart, Jim, but not as we know it

unusual pig heart

Sometimes something so unusual appears that we can’t help ourselves and we have to cut it up ourselves. This heart presented us with one of those times.

On the outside it was rough textured and the tissue was very soft.  It was easy to pull a piece off with your fingers.

On the inside the right side chambers had a few differences to a normal heart.  The right atrium and ventricle were both very circular in shape compared to a typical heart.  The pectinate muscles and the trabeculae carnae were almost non-existent so inside the right side chambers was very smooth.

There was a layer of tissue on the outside that was obviously different to the rest of the myocardium.

The pericardium was separate and appeared quite normal, as did the rest of the pluck.

At the outset we thought we might have a parasitic infection and were a bit disappointed to find no evidence of it when we opened up the heart.  Perhaps it was a congenital defect or a viral infection that caused it?  If anyone has any insight into what we had then we’d love to hear it.   Drop us a line here.


Posted on

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.


Posted on

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