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Step 3: Preparing study skins and skeletons

As the specimens are thawed, they are then taken into the lab for preparation by the museums’ vertebrate zoology curator. Watch this short film to see the curation process and to understand what parts of an animal the musem is interested in preserving for future research.

Study skin prep

As the curator finishes preparing the study skin, it is then placed in a dryer (see below) for up to a week so that it is stable enough for transfer into the dry collections room.
After the flesh and skeleton are submerged in alcohol, they are taken out of the solution, dried and put into jars to be transferred for cleaning by a dermestid beetle population. The bones are then returned to NHMU and stored with the study skins. Click on this link to watch this time lapsed video of a colony of beetles cleaning a rat skull.
When the specimens return to the museum the bones undergo some additional cleaning. What is left is only the skeletal structure of the specimen.