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Blood and guts spill out at this museum

Monday, November 1st, 2010



Nate Rice eviscerates a chickadee.

Blood and guts and brains may sound like leftovers from a gruesome Halloween costume, but it’s everyday stuff at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. The science institute is pulling out innards for all to see.

Just off the main lobby of the Academy of Natural Sciences on the Parkway is a hallway where a group of fourth graders on a field trip happened upon ornithologist Nate Rice quietly pulling apart a bird.

“So I’ve pulled the skin all the way down the back, and now we’re coming to the legs…

Oh my god. ewww!”

Mikula Konneh jostled for position near the bird.

“It was nasty. He was picking up the bird and taking everything out.”

Nate Rice and Dana Cohen prepare bird skins at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Three days a week, scientists who normally work in the back rooms of the Academy come center-stage as they pin insects, pickle fish, or scrape brains out of a bird skull to prepare specimens for the permanent collection. Rice says it’s a chance for the public to see science in action.

They all scream and ooh and ahh, and pretend to be repulsed. But they never leave. That is almost a universal response for us here.

The Academy’s 200-thousand bird collection is added to daily. It will gladly accept any dead bird found on the sidewalks of Philadelphia.


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