Otterbein Professor Teaches Unique Biology Skill – Preparing Bones for Educational Purposes

Posted Jul 22, 2022

By Catie Duzzny ’21, MBA ’23

Biology and Earth Science students worked with skeletons in a unique course offered for the first time in spring 2022 by Associate Professor Andrew Calinger-Yoak.

“Many of my students are zoo majors so a few semesters ago I had a few students come in and do a class with cleaning animal skeletons to see if there was any interest. There ended up being a lot of interest, enough to try it as an experimental course topic,” said Calinger-Yoak.

The course topic was “Skills for Skeleton Articulation,” and students learned how to prepare bone specimens from salvage specimens. Calinger-Yoak partnered with the Ohio Wildlife Center, which provided many of the specimens, and Otterbein’s Zoo and Conservation Science program.

During the semester students had a hands-on introduction to the methods of necropsy. They learned how to prepare an animal specimen for articulation, which then could be displayed in educational collections.

The students performed dissections, tanned skins, and prepared skeletons using water maceration. After practicing they were assigned to construct their own museum-quality mounting to donate to local organizations, including the Ohio Wildlife Center.

“New skeletons are generally quite expensive if you get them from a store. Rather than doing that, the students know they have those skills that they can just get their carcasses themselves, clean them, and then prepare them to be put on display as an education piece,” said Calinger-Yoak.

Some of the specimens that students worked on included red-tailed hawks, a snowy owl, opossums, and a red fox.

“The benefit of going through this process is seeing others really engage with it. It’s a really good tool for education that I hope to be able to continue to support local schools and organizations,” said Calinger-Yoak. Over the summer some of his students are continuing to prepare specimens with independent work, overseen by Calinger-Yoak.

Preparing Bones for Educational Purposes
Preparing bones For Educational Purposes
Preparing Bones For Educational purposes