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Specimen of the Week 386: A Cocktail of Spirits: Fluid Preservation at the Grant Museum

KatieDavenport-Mackey19 July 2019

The Grant Museum contains a staggering number of specimens – the estimate is more than 68,000 – and approximately 10% are fluid preserved specimens. Fluid preservation describes specimens that are preserved in chemicals that protect them from deterioration. There are three components to a fluid preserved specimen:

  1. The fixed specimen: The specimen is injected or ‘fixed’ with a chemical that prevents decomposition by stabilising the protein molecules. The most common fixative is formaldehyde.
  2. The preservative fluid: Most fluid preserved specimens are preserved in solutions of alcohol or formalin, a mixture of formaldehyde and water.
  3. The container: Containers are typically glass jars or bottles sealed with a closure.

Below is a brief description of some of the different preservative fluids that can be found in the Grant Museum.

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Specimen of the Week 381: What Lies Beneath

Tannis M NDavidson17 May 2019

Mystery ceramic pots

Mystery ceramic pots

The fluid store room for the Grant Museum is perhaps an unlikely setting for a hair-raising tale. In it, rows of metal shelves are neatly arranged holding jars of preserved zoology specimens arranged by taxonomy. Order and classification dictate the placement of specimens, and as a whole, the contents of the store are visible, documented and accessible.

Apart from the bottom shelf of the last row. Although a numbered (legitimate) location, it is a wildcard area which houses several large ceramic pots of unknown content. No one knows exactly how and when the pots came to be a part of the Grant Museum collection and because it is impossible to see into them, no none knows what they hold. A few clues exist – the occasional faded label or a more modern post-it note – but as the pots have not been opened and investigated in living memory, their contents are a mystery.

What follows is the first-hand account of the opening of two of the pots. This is a true story.

**WARNING  Graphic images below **

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Specimen of the Week 340: The Gross, the Bad and the Ugly Part II

Tannis M NDavidson27 April 2018

Disposal?

Disposal?

Back by somewhat popular demand, this week’s Specimen of the Week says goodbye to another batch of fluid specimens which were beyond salvation. Last time the disposed specimens were equal parts sludge, rot and mould. This second batch of disposals also has plenty of murky fluid, active decay and rotting carcasses for your viewing displeasure as well as several less-queasy ‘phantom’ specimens that had already made their final journey into oblivion. Please join us to pay our respects to…

 

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Specimen of the Week 310: The Gross, the Bad and the Ugly

Tannis M NDavidson29 September 2017

Ah, Specimen of the Week. The weekly showcasing of specimens from the Grant Museum. Over the years this blog has featured the furry, the fluid, the skeletal, the dangerous, the poisonous, the new, the old, the damaged, the conserved, the plentiful, the endangered, the extant, the extinct, the big, the beautiful, the tiny, the hideous, the lost and the found.

The specimens are meticulously selected each week to offer a bit of fun, insight and enjoyment to the reader. This week however, is a somber affair. Rather than a celebration of life, this week’s Specimen of the Week is an obituary. Say goodbye to… (more…)

Specimen of the Week 298: The Preserved Chimpanzee Hand

Rowan J JTinker30 June 2017

Preserved chimpanzee manus (hand). LDUCZ-Z1146.

Preserved chimpanzee manus (hand). LDUCZ-Z1146.

At the Grant Museum of Zoology we house enough material to comprise at least half a chimpanzee, probably even several halves…

“Half a chimpanzee, philosophically

Must, ipso facto, half not be

But half the chimpanzee has got to be

Vis-a-vis its entity, d’you see?”

I understand that by re-working Eric Idle’s Eric the Half a Bee song to read ‘chimpanzee’ instead of ‘bee’ most of the rhyming joke is lost, but I digress.

This week’s Specimen of the Week is…

 

 

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