What’s in the jar?

The Zoology collections at Cincinnati Museum Center are divided into “fluid” and “dry” collections. The fluid collection space is one of my favorites at the museum – it is equal parts creepy and fascinating for most visitors. In the dry collections, specimens are typically skinned (removing all the organs and soft tissue), stuffed, and dried.

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Zoology CSI

Zoology CSI By: Heather Farrington, Curator of Zoology Even at the dawn of the genetic age, it was known that only living (or once living) cells could be a source of DNA for study. Blood, tissues such as skin and muscle, and reproductive cells such as sperm were standard sources of genetic material. Structures such as fur, hair, feathers, shells, claws, and nails were thought to be made up only of secreted proteins, with no living cells, and therefore were of little value to geneticists unless there were still skin cells attached. If you’ve ever seen a TV crime drama, this is why hair samples are always collected by pulling rather than cutting, so that the skin cells at the base of the hair follicle (living cells containing DNA) are attached. After a cell dies, the DNA inside begins to degrade, or break down […]

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The birds are back in town!

Bird migration is at its peak right now in the Cincinnati area and on our Edge of Appalachia preserve. All of our bird breeders that leave for the winter are now back in southern Ohio, Indiana, and Northern Kentucky and singing in their territories.

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Is this the last Great Auk?

The Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) was a penguin-like, flightless bird found along coastlines in the north Atlantic. It was valued for its meat, fatty oils, and feathers, and was hunted to extinction in the mid-1800’s. As the bird became more rare, collectors paid handsomely for specimens.

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