Freak Week: Terrifying Trunk Pickles
Posted On: 10/30/2017 - 10:13am, Posted By: Other
This post guest-authored by Dee Broomhead, current Zoology Intern and student at NKU.
Hello ladies and ghouls, welcome to another installation of Freak Week with your host, Ichabod Bones! Here at the Geier Research Center, a large part of our Zoology Collections are preserved in fluid rather than kept dry as study skins or taxidermy. Walking through the fluid collections alone has been known to frighten many a weak-hearted visitor.
When passing through, you may see snakes, bats, frogs, birds, spiders, and much, much more peeping back at you as you wander through the aisles. However, some of the contents of our jars are not so easily recognized. When confronted with the specimens below, many are stumped. Can you guess what these are?
These are something that we affectionately call “trunk pickles!” When, for example, bird specimen study skins or taxidermy are made, everything but the skin must be removed to prevent rotting. However, the innards are not discarded completely, because scientists may someday want to study the bones or organs of the animal to learn more about how it lived, how healthy it was, what it ate, etc. Historically, or when working in primitive conditions, a specimen’s insides are placed in a jar of fluid such as formalin (no longer used) or alcohol for preservation. This was done because the tissue would begin rotting before researchers could transport it to a freezer. We call them “trunk pickles” because only the trunk of the specimen is preserved, the skin, legs, and skull are elsewhere as part of a study skin.
If you’re curious, this is one of the study skins that corresponds with a “trunk pickle” in the jar! It is an Island Thrush (Turdus poliocephalus) that was collected in the Sarangani Providence of the Philippines in 1993.