Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Anatomy stinks

No seriously... I feel like I need to burn my labcoat and bathe in rubbing alcohol.

After spending four hours deep in the bowels of the human abdomen (...literally?), with gloves covered in stinky particles of who-knows-what kinds of bodily by-products I really did feel nasty.

But after having experienced the adventures of dissection first-hand, I've come away with a completely new appreciation and respect for the work that anatomists do. How scientists ever sorted out the body in the way they did is beyond me. When you see exhibits in anatomical atlases or scientific exhibits (like Body Worlds), you are inspired by the intricacies of the human body, but you don't really appreciate what went into putting that specimen together: Hours of scraping off fat and membranes, while painstakingly preserving nerves and vessels embedded therewithin.

When I think about how hard it is to clean the structures of interest while not obliterating them with your scalpel in the process, I think back to the 1997 film Starship Troopers. In it, the main character, Rico, and his girlfriend are dissecting a giant alien bug in biology class. After splitting the carapace open with a saw, Rico sticks his hands in and starts pulling out internal organs: Heart, intestines, etc. He doesn't need to cut them apart or even use any tools other than his hands. All of them are just in there clean and ready for the taking, surrounded by little more than a slimy mucous. Now I've never dissected an insect, so I don't know how accurate a portrayal this is (probably not very), but it certainly doesn't work this way for mammals.

If real life were like that, anatomy labs would certainly be easy as pie! But then... you'd probably cough up your spleen or something too.

1 comment:

sandlot said...

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but everytime after anatomy lab I would crave beef jerky.

I know, your girlfriend is odd. But whatever, you use the word "foible".