The Chicago Field Museum is one of the largest and most respected natural history museums in the world. Join me as we go behind the scenes! Dun dun dun! So, uh, how we pickle specimens is first, we take a tissue sample and we’ll make just like a small incision in the belly and squeeze the liver through. Take some- Take some liver.
– Ew. Yeah. And we put it in a solution of formalin that they soak for a week. And then we will put it in an alcohol bath. Okay. Um, a certain percentage at a time, so like we start with 20%, 40%… Yeah. Slowly increasing up to 70. Mmkay. And then, that way, once again, we can preserve them for hundreds and hundreds of years to come. They just last forever.
– They just last forever. They do. That’s, yeah, just- Jars and jars and cabinets and cabinets of things in alcohol. And rows and rows. Look at all of ’em. What do we have down here? Parts.
– Ooh. Intestines.
– Yeah. Can you go back and take DNA samples from these later? There are some cases that you can,
– Uh-huh. but I think that most people rely on tissue samples.
– Okay. So much diversity.
– Yeah. A little chipmunk. Something. Yeah, umbrinus, it’s a chipmunk. That’s… awesome. This is the mammals prep lab. I’ve never been happier in my life. Literally. Ever. Every day. It’s a good place to be. This is- I am jealous of your job. People tell me all the time they’re jealous of my job but you have- You- You know, ‘Oh, what did you do today at work, honey?’ You’re like ‘I just washed urine out of a dead snow leopard.’ It just smells like… a bunch of people who ate a bunch of asparagus peed all over this thing. That’s- Like, there’s definite, like, urine-y kind of- it’s weird, I’ve never smelled anything like this.
– Yeah. But do you- Do you smell the spice in it? You know, like, there’s the urine, right.
– Yeah. Like you can smell the ammonia , it’s definitely, like, that’s all of this region. Yeah. But you can also smell this, like, um, like, you can smell the fat a little bit, you can smell the muscle, there’s a little bit of blood in there, and it’s- it’s- it’s got this like spice to it. One of the best parts about this job is not only seeing the insides of so many different mammals but also all their different smells. Primates smell totally different than any other mammal. And chipmunks – they smell the best. You think dead chipmunks smell the best?
– Oh, dead- dead chipmunks smell the best. Like, ‘Hey, lady, what are you wearing tonight?’ ‘Uh, I’m just wearing my dead chipmunk smell.’
– I end up- I can like smell it on- You know- ‘Cause like when you touch the stuff,
– Yeah it- the oils stay with you. Even though you wash your hands.
– Yeah. Um. The chipmunks are always the most pleasant to stay with you. Really? You think so?
– And skunks, fresh skunks that haven’t expressed themselves almost smell like flowers. And so what are you- you gonna be doing with this? Um, so, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna take- I’m gonna take its clothes off. Okay. You’re gonna s- finish skinning it.
– I’m gonna- I’m gonna finish skinning it. And I’m going to make a study skin from this. A flat skin. Wow. Really?
– So, I’ll leave- I’ll leave the nails in one foot and then I’ll take the nails out of another, so that one set of nails can stay with the skeleton.
– Okay. But then what I’ll do is I’ll basically what you did with the wolf, is dismember it I’ll remove a bunch of the meat because if there’s too much then the beetles just are like ‘Oh god, I’m done with leopard.’ Yeah. Um.
– Yeah. I’m over it. Um. And then- and then it- goes to the beetles
– That’s great. and it comes back through here and it ends up in the collection for- Forever. For ever and ever.
– for people to see. Yeah. This is awesome.
– Yeah. And you can see here- So this isn’t- It’s not ideal. Yeah. The skin is actually slipping. Oh, no. So the skin is here but the fur, um, the fur just pulls off.
– Yeah. This means that it’s starting to decompose.
– Yeah. Which isn’t- Which isn’t great.
– You don’t like that. Um. But it- it was in the freezer for a really long time. I’ve had that problem. I get that.
– Yeah. Are those gonads? What is this right there? Oh, that’s the top of the femur.
– Yeah. Coming out of the pelvis. Okay. The gonads are long gone. I was gonna say. I mean- you know, Snow leopard gonads are hot commodity.