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[personal profile] einahsketch
Yes. That's right.
I Tore The Jaw Off Of A Deer

It’s a pretty sweet story, actually. Mrs. A, my anatomy teacher, right? Well she has this friend who shoots deer and stuff. It’s okay though because he owns the land and the deer, so no harm done. Well, except to the deer.

Anyway, so Mrs. A brings in this deer. It’s not an entire deer though, just the head, the torso, the skin, the guts (all in a garbage bag) and the legs. The first day of dissection, we laid the deer out on a cart and poked around. The doe’s eyes had glazed over and her tongue was sticking out. The remnants of her last meal were still clinging to it. We could hardly move the jaw. The skin was bloody and slick on the underside.

We started cutting the skin and meat off the legs to get a better look at the bone and tendons, as we had done with the chicken leg. The tendons were very thick and slippery, so it was hard to get a good grip, but we were still able to observe some movement in the hoof. There wasn’t much to do with the torso other than observe the ribs, the spine, and find the bullet wound. I was particularly interested in the pelvic bone. Though it was hard to make out due to the muscle still attached, I could see the socket, or what I assumed was the socket, for the leg and found it to be very small. In fact, the entire structure was smaller than what I had assumed it would be, based on what we’ve observed of the human pelvic bone. I suppose that it’s because a quadrupedal creature doesn’t need to put much weight on their pelvis, unlike humans and other bipedals. After observing the torso, we began cutting off the fur of the neck to look at the muscles that form the neck and the trachea. The muscle where the head had been cut off was brown and dry, but the newly revealed muscle was pink and fresher.

The second day of dissection made me never want to eat eggs again. That’s what the internal organs smelled like – eggs. Horrible, rotting eggs. The smell from the day before had been bad as well, but you had to be up close to really get a whiff of it. Not so with the organs. For a while, I thought I wouldn’t be able to continue with the dissection, but I quickly got over it when I realized how awesome the organs were. I was mostly amazed at the intestines, just because there didn’t seem to be and end (although there was, and I found it unintentionally and it was nasty). Of the mass of organs, about half seem to be intestine, and all of it was held together by this thin, yellow film (which didn’t help that whole egg thing from earlier). Mrs. A showed us the lungs, which had been damaged from the gunshot, and the heart. What was interesting was how much fat was around the heart, because according to Mrs. A, it was more than expected. I just don’t expect a deer to have an excess amount of fat in its body. We looked at the various sections of the heart, and then observed the stomach, which I was really tempted to open but knew it would be a bad idea, the liver, and whatever else we could locate. I found two masses that I thought were the ovaries, but this was never confirmed.

I missed the third day. When I came back the next day was that the legs had been completely stripped of skin and muscle, so that was interesting. The skin was also partially off the doe’s head, though it remained attached to the sides.

But yeah, when I did come back, it was finally The Day. The day we were going to get to the brain. I was expecting us to use some fancy tools like a drill, but no, we went for a more primitive approach and used a hammer and chisel (which Mrs. A said is the method used during autopsies. This scares me.). By this time, maggot started to feed on the head. They weren’t all over the place, just two clusters in the mouth and a few in the crease where the skin was still attached to the head. They were small, looked like rice, and it was pretty nasty, but again, I got over it. The smell was more bearable this time around since Alcoriza decided it would be a good idea to drown the head in rubbing alcohol. (Thank so, so much for that.) Mrs. A began removing more of the skin, working faster than any of us had previously. I decided to poke the eye a bit and found that it was squishier than I had imagined. I had expected a balloon and what I got was a water balloon.

August began chiseling while the rest of us stood back and watched. The skull was surprisingly resilient, though August was being a bit too gentle. His first attempt only broke the surface of the skull, so we kept going at it for a long time. We changed angles and forces until finally we were able to see brain matter though the cracks. Trouble was, we couldn’t access it, since the skull wasn’t going to just let itself get ripped off. Alcoriza and I started to cut off more skin around the jaw, and August began chiseling towards the jaw. It still wasn’t enough. So I took over, and decided to be less ginger about the whole thing. I started by working on crack so that not only would it reach the jaw, but detach it entirely. This took some work, since I had to position the chisel just right in the doe’s mouth and pound at it without damaging the doe or myself. The jaw did end up breaking though. It was when I started to pull the skull off that I realized what had to be done.

I had to pull the jaw off.

And I did.

I tore the jaw off of the deer.

I have never felt so cool in my life.

It was a bit easier than I expected, though I had just weakened the jaw considerably. When the jaw was removed, along with the skull bone that was attached to it, we could observe the underside of the brain. This wasn’t the first time I’ve observed a brain, but I’m always amazed at how tough it is. As a kid, you imagine that the brain is stable, but more jiggly. However, it’s very strong and stationary. I was also surprised at the size of the deer’s brain, just because I always expect the brain of most large animals to be the size of a human’s. That’s hardly the case, though. After poking around the brain a bit, and when most of the kids lost interest since the bell was about to ring, Lauren and I decided to cut the tongue where it attaches to the bottom of the mouth, now that we had access to it, which has always been a structure that fascinated me. We got to observe the membrane that covers the tongue, as well as flop it around a bit and make funny noises. (I promise I will be much more respectful when it comes time to dissect the cats.) I noticed that the teeth were very skinny and jagged. They were darkened at the sides, so I think this was an old deer, though I have no way knowing (although the fat on the heart seems to possibly suggest this as well.) It was also interesting to observe the roof of the mouth. There were ridges which reminded me of a dog’s mouth. It was rough to the touch.

Then we cleaned up and got ready for lunch.

So yeah, this was an interesting lab and I hope that I can do something similar to this in the future. Thank you so much, Mrs. A, for giving me and everyone in the class the opportunity to observe such a beautiful creature, inside and out, even if it means not eating eggs for a long, long time.
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