Zoology Dissections

Andrew Madsen, Reporter

The practice of cutting animals open to see and understand them better is something practiced and seen in schools all around the world. But why exactly do we need to do it and what exactly is it like? 

Dissection is the act of cutting into a dead animal to understand its anatomy. It can be done to see the internal structure of an animal’s organs, or to look for anomalies and adaptations specific to each animal. 

“Students get a memorable experience of the three-dimensional (3D) anatomy of the animals. They are able to compare organisms across phyla to other things they have dissected.” Battle zoology teacher Rachel Tinsely said. “There are many “aha” moments while discovering what’s inside the stomach, how nicely everything fits and has a place, why different organs have different textures.”  

The animals that are dissected in the curriculum are earthworms, clams, squid, starfish, crayfish, grasshoppers, perch, frogs and rats. They are obtained from National Biological Corp, where they are already killed, blood removed, and preserved in a chemical called Formalin. To dissect these animals the students use scalpels, dissecting scissors, tweezers, and probes. 

Some students do not enjoy the idea of cutting open once living organisms, though. The smell from cutting the animals is unpleasant, and the sharp tools can cause a safety hazard, especially with a bunch of students around. Logan Tinsely, sophomore, said he struggles with the idea of cutting open animals.

“While cutting open animals has a purpose we should not be killing millions of animals each year to do it and I think there’s a more effective way to do this.” 

Some students, including Kael Miranda, sophomore, think it’s an interesting and useful thing to learn. 

“Dissecting animals has taught me important things about the anatomy of animals and skills that I might use later in life,” Miranda said. 

Dissecting animals is not just a way for students to learn things though. Researchers even use it to benefit us. 

“Researchers dissect animals, usually autopsy style, to compare a normal anatomy to one that is damaged. This can be used forensically to find out what went wrong,” Tinsley said. 

Dissecting is an effective way of teaching students about the anatomy of animals, and could even be called the most effective way of teaching students about the anatomy of animals. 

“Two dimensional diagrams do not give a total picture. Apps and virtual reality give students the misconception that organs are colorful inside. Actually removing parts helps kinesthetic learners retain information,” Tinsley said.  

She also added that it is an important piece of biological study and a valuable tool for people who want to learn about the anatomy of animals.