Dissecting, anyone?

Note: This post may gross you out.

Yesterday I went to a homeschool biology lab. The point of this lab was to learn the digestive system. They are constantly underestimating what I’ve learned. Yesterday I decided that if they wanted me to learn the digestive system, I would learn enough to be annoying about it. I got through Wikipedia articles from the salivary glands to the esophagus before I decided that it wasn’t worth it and just concentrated on spelling everything right. The title of my salivary glands through esophagus notes paper was, “They want me to learn about the digestive system? Then dammit I will!” On an unrelated note, my life isn’t boring.

So I got there and there was this table. And on this table was a lot of rubber gloves and a plastic bin. This plastic bin was covered by a bag. This bag was blue. (Too far?) As I stood around the table the retired biology teacher who doesn’t seem to get that I have my own curriculum lifted the bag off the bin and…there was a dead turkey. Minus the head. And most of the feathers. But not the feet. The thing still had its feet.

After reviewing the turkey digestive system, (which is information I will never need to know) we put in gloves.

The turkey’s feet were creepy. The bird itself looked like it was ready for cooking, but it still had its huge feet. I now know why surgeons cover up the patient except for the part they’re operating on, you don’t want to have someone’s feet staring at you. Before we started cutting (more on that later) up the turkey, the teacher asked us if we knew how you were supposed to get the last little feathers off. I suggested wax. But apparently turkeys don’t like getting waxed. Who knew?

The feet finally get cut off, thank you god, they were going to make me sick. The teacher brought one apron. There was a possibility that blood would squirt everywhere and she brought one apron. You know, in a situation like that it’s pretty easy to tell who grew up on a farm.

Well, we started cutting up the turkey. It was pretty uneventful at first. The intestines are pinkish grey. There was no blood squirting. It was as normal as possible for cutting up a turkey in a classroom. We found the intestines, the liver, the organ that holds all the liquids and the heart.

Then things got interesting.

I was supposed to cut something in half, I forget what it was, but anyway I was trying to cut it, and it would not cut. The knife could not puncture it. I asked, “Is there a possibility that it could explode?” My question was answered with, “Oh, yes.” That was not the answer I wanted to hear. It was very far from the answer I wanted to hear. It didn’t explode in the end.

Once most of the organs were removed and tossed in the bin with the feet, (Seriously, tossed. Not placed, they were tossed in there) it was time to get to the lungs. At this point the teacher lost all the ‘professional’ surgical stuff. She basically picked the bird up and started pulling it apart. Not kidding, she picked it up and ripped it apart. It crunched. 

Then we tossed the feet half of the turkey into the bin.

One by one the organs got tossed into the bin. A lung got ripped out…and tossed into the bin. The esophagus seemed particularly hard to get out of the turkey. Even with all the organ ripping out the esophagus was stuck in that turkey…

In conclusion, it was all quite disgusting. Possible the most bizarre experience I have ever had. I don’t think I was grossed out by the turkey intestines part, more by the freakishly hellish way that the turkey was dissected. I am still having trouble getting the image of that turkey getting ripped in half out of my head.

I don’t ever want to dissect anything in that manner again. I don’t get squeamish by seeing the inside of a turkey, just by seeing the insides of a turkey ripped out and tossed in a bin. I mean, no one goes to the cadaver lab and starts ripping the bodies in half!

So, moral: Don’t dissect a turkey with one apron and a set of steak knives in a classroom. It will end with you not being able to get the image of the half-turkey out of your head. Speaking of images, I have pictures!

Just kidding! I did not take any pictures. I could have, but I didn’t. You’re welcome.



6 thoughts on “Dissecting, anyone?

  1. Awesome experience. Much better than my experience dissecting a frog in 10th grade: I let my lab partner do it. Amy was thrilled to do it all. I think I read a book while she did it. I think it took a week. I don’t remember the book, but I do remember the smell of formaldehyde. I’m guessing you missed the formaldehyde part–one benefit of homeschooling bio lab. Hey, whatcha going as for Halloween this fall? A half-dissected turkey?

  2. Yep, kind of reminds me of the day my mum (who did grow up on a farm) decided we were going to dissect a piglet…in the middle of the dining room…on the dinner table…the table we’d just eaten our breakfast on and would soon be eating our lunch from. I mean who the heck dissects piglets, an entire whole piglet, not even a small piglet, not even a stillborn piglet (it had milk in its stomach! yeuch!) anyway. Suppose I ought to be glad it was at least a whole piglet. But, come on, what’s so wrong with a frog? Or an earthworm? Or something virtual?

    And, as for the day she came home with a dead lamb, let’s not even go there. Suffice to say that I did not know what to do first : pee myself or have a heart attack. Oh, the joys of being a home ed’er.

  3. Pigs and lambs and turkeys… and with Easter right around the corner… huh. No, seriously, your teacher must ahve wanted to make it memorable or else why use steak knives instead of a box cutter.

    Paul – the formaldahyde smell. You bring me back to the old days. Is it true maraschino cherries are pickled in that stuff? That’s what I learned from class that day. Can’t remember the animal, but I remember never to eat those cherries. Blech.

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