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Citation formatting is not guaranteed to be accurate.
MLA Full: "How Do Taxidermists Preserve Snakes? | Ask Emily." YouTube, uploaded by thebrainscoop, 16 October 2013,
MLA Inline: (thebrainscoop, 2013)
APA Full: thebrainscoop. (2013, October 16). How Do Taxidermists Preserve Snakes? | Ask Emily [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (thebrainscoop, 2013)
Chicago Full: thebrainscoop, "How Do Taxidermists Preserve Snakes? | Ask Emily.", October 16, 2013, YouTube, 06:34,
Got any questions for future Ask Emilys? Leave them in the comments below!

The Brain Scoop: Season One Soundtrack!

Bug Guide!


The Brain Scoop is written and hosted by:
Emily Graslie

Created By:
Hank Green

Directed, Edited, Animated, and Scored by:
Michael Aranda

Filmed on Location and Supported by:
The Field Museum in Chicago, IL

Translated captions by the lovely Martina Šafusová, Tony Chu, Arantzazu R. Alcocer Iturria, Seth Bergenholtz, and Kelleen Browning. Thanks, everybody!

(singing) It's question time! You ask questions and I answer your questions and you ask more questions and I can answer! Sometimes.

Cresthesia Hawkins asks: How exactly do taxidermists preserve fish and reptiles, snakes and the such? How do they preserve the scales and things like that?

Certain reptiles like tortoises, alligators, and some large snakes can be taxidermied because they have skin that is think enough that it can be treated like how you would treat the skin of a deer when you're taxidermying it. But for the most part, most fish don't have skin like that. It's too thin and it doesn't retain its shape once it's dried. You can't really skin them to begin with. So most taxidermied fish that you see are actually recreated models made out of plaster or plastic or something that's going to retain its shape. And then they'll add original fishy bits to it, like, they'll stick on the tail or the fins, and it'll be the same shape or the same size as the fish that it was supposed to represent, but... it's all recreated.

Tommy J., @EETommyJ, asks: How did your opening theme music come to be? Did you compose it?

Michael Aranda actually wrote and composed all of the music that you hear on The Brain Scoop and you can go download it at Bandcamp right now if you want. It was a song that was informed by electric-pop likes of Passion Pit and Vampire Weekend, 'cause that's my jam.

TeachingPatience asks: How do you deal with a young person in your field? I'm a new teacher which often makes older teachers look down on me.

Well, you walk in with your head held high and an appreciation for all of the hard work from everybody who's ever come before you. You have to remember that you offer a unique perspective in your job- that's why you're there- and you also have to understand that at some point, everybody was new and they were in the same position that you are now. Everybody has something new to learn at some point and you just work together.

AtomicAllena asks: Do you have any words of encouragement to young girls and young women studying science, especially those in fields dominated by men?

Well ladies, if you're nervous about going into a field that's dominated by men, I guess we just have to get more women in the field to balance out those demographics a little bit! Don't let anybody try to fit you into a mold or make you feel like you have to do something just based off of your sex or gender. That's not who you have to be. You be the person that you wanna be!

TalesFromTerraFirma asks: What is the best thing about working in a museum? I would like to know if it's as incredible as I imagine/hope. :)
P.S.: You're super duper cool.

The people! The collections are fantastic, don't get me wrong. On a day-to-day basis I see more things that totally blow my mind than I could have ever conceived of. The other day I looked at a book from the 1480's, and I see new species that have never before been discovered or explained to science or published in a book- they're brand new. Nobody even knows what they are. It's amazing! But these things would just be objects if they weren't connected to the people who are responsible for bringing them to light. Without the people, a pot would just be a pot and a dead animal would just be a dead animal. I get to talk everyday with people who are incredibly passionate about what they do. They're just as insanely excited about this as I am, and that's really an amazing thing to be able to share, that love of natural history. You can't- You can't ev- You can't replace that!

NotSpideyMan asks: Has the time of amateur natural historians come and gone with the 1800's? Or are solid discoveries/observations limited to the ivory tower?

Nope! Citizen science is alive and strong, and you see it in projects like BugGuide, which is an online collaborative database of insect photos submitted by people from all over the globe. It's really amazing, because sometimes things that end up on BugGuide are previously undocumented insect behaviors or even new species. None of these things would have been possible if people weren't out just documenting what's happening in their backyard. The world is a huge place, and we need as many people as possible to help us explore it. Sure, you might not be able to go out into the forest and shoot everything that moves, like you used to be able to do in the 1880's as a normal citizen, but that was never really the ideal way to explore the natural world in the first place.

A-mug-full-of-jellybeans asks: Do you ever get used to being around dead stuff? Would you freak out less if you found a human dead body now that you do this job?

I think that depends on the situation in which I were to find a dead body... In a morgue, that's kind of a given... In my apartment...

HotSauceAndCandyFloss asks (I wou- You don't wanna mix those two things...): Has the field museum ever had to turn away donations because they didn't have enough space?

It's not so much that we don't have space for everything, The Field Museum has over 25 million artifacts and specimens, and we have space to store most everything here including areas to expand into, but we're not going to take a very large donation of something if there's nobody here who'd studying that object.

Xan Smith, @BumbleGumBees, asks: Nowadays, what kind of organisms or artifacts are being actively searched for and collected by The Field Museum?

We're not really focused on finding one thing in particular. It's more about having a better understanding of the entire natural world around us, which is kind of like looking at a giant map of interconnected disciplines all over the museum and the world. We're not really like Captain Ahab, searching for the White Whale, in that respect, but we do have researchers from all over studying this wide variety of things and subjects and material.

IAmSeekingA-GreaterPerhaps asks: Was it difficult making the decision to change your career path when you were almost done with college?

It was terrifying! For a long time I was really mad at the universe for not letting me know a little sooner, you know, maybe before I had spent 3 and a half years and tens of thousands of dollars on education for me to realize, like, "Oh, this is really what I want to be doing." It's kind of like, I had to spend some time trying to convince myself that it was just a phase I was going through. Like that one time I thought I looked good with pink hair. So, I highly encourage anybody who feels like they're not in the right place, they're not in the place that they want to be, that you should really listen to yourself and pursue your instincts. Because, I mean, a year ago I was an unpaid intern. And now, I work in the sweetest museum in the world.

Ashley Paramore, @HealthyAddict, asks: What does the fox say?

Gring-ding-ding-ding dinga-ringa-ding. No, that's not at all what the fox says. The fox goes "yip." It goes like, "yip! Yip yip!" That's what the fox says.


It still has brains on it.