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Uploaded:2013-07-17
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Wherein we discuss the underrated smell of dead chipmunks.


Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thebrainscoop

The Brain Scoop is hosted and written by:
Emily Graslie

Created By:
Hank Green

Directed, Edited, and Scored by:
Michael Aranda

Assistant Editor:
Stefan Chin

Love from me to Martina Šafusová, Diana Raynes, Hervé Saint Raymond, Barbara Velázquez, Tony Chu, John-Alan Pascoe, Seth Bergenholtz, and Kelleen Browning for their tireless efforts in transcribing and translating these episodes. Thank you!

Michael: This episode is brought to you by an overwhelmingly generous contribution from: Heather Hsu.
Emily: The Chicago Field Museum is one of the largest and most respected natural history museums in the world. Join me as we go behind-the-scenes! Dun-dun-DUNNN!!!

THE ALCOHOL COLLECTION


Anna Goldman: So, uh, how we pickle specimens is first we take a tissue sample and we'll make just like a small incision in the belly and squeeze the liver through. Take some liver.
Emily: Yeah.
Anna: And we put it in a solution of formalin that they soak for a week and then we will put it in an alcohol bath.
Emily: Okay.
Anna: A certain percentage at a time. Like, we start with 20%, 40%, slowly increasing up to 70%.
Emily: M'kay.
Anna: And then, that way, once again we can preserve them for hundreds and hundreds of years to come.
Emily: They just last forever.
Anna: They just last forever. They do.
---
Emily: It's just- yeah. Just jars and jars and cabinets and cabinets of things in alcohol. In rows and rows. Look at all of them. What do we have down here?
Anna: Hearts... Intestines.
Emily: Ooh! Yeah. Can you go back and take DNA samples from these later?
Anna: There are some cases that you can, but I think that most people rely on tissue samples.
Emily: Okay. So much diversity. Little Chipmunk. Something.
Anna: Yeah, umbrinus. It's a chipmunk.
Emily: That's... awesome.



THE PREP LAB


Anna: This is the mammals prep lab.
Emily: I've never been happier in my life, literally. Ever.
Anna: Every day.
Emily: *laughs*
Anna: It's a good place to be.
Emily: I am jealous of your job. People tell me all the time that they're jealous of my job, but you have... you're... You know "Oh, what'd you do at work today, honey?" Like "Aw, I just washed urine out of a dead snow leopard." It just smells like a bunch of people who ate a bunch of asparagus peed all over this thing. That's- like there's a definite urine-y kind of... it's weird. I've never smelled anything like this.
Anna: D'you smell the spice in this?  Y'know, like there's the urine, right, like--

Emily: Yeah.

Anna: --you smell the ammonia, it's definitely like, that's all this region, but like, you can also smell this, like, um, like you can smell the fat a little bit, you can smell the muscle, there's a little bit of blood in there, and it's, it's got this like, spice to it.  One of the best parts about this job is not only seeing the insides of so many different mammals, but also all their different smells.  Primates smell totally different than any other mammal and chipmunks, they smell the best.  

Emily: You think dead chipmunks smell the best?

Anna: Oh, dead chipmunks smell the best, like--

Emily: Hey, lady, what are you wearing tonight?  I'm just wearing my dead chipmunk smell.

Anna: I can like smell it on, you know, cos like when you touch this stuff, the oils stay with you, even though you wash your hands, um, the chipmunks are always the most pleasant to stay with you.  

Emily: Really?

Anna: And skunks, fresh skunks that haven't expressed themselves, almost smell like flowers.  

Emily: And so, what are you going to be doing with this?

Anna: Um, so, what I'm going to do is I'm going to take, I'm going to take its clothes off.

Emily: Okay, you're gonna finish skinning it.

Anna: I'm gonna finish skinning it, and I'm going to make a study skin from this, a flat skin--

Emily: Wow, really?

Anna: So I'll leave, I'll leave the nails in one foot, and then I'll take the nails out of another, so that one set of nails can stay with the skeleton, but then, what I'll do is I'll basically what you did with the wolf is dismember it, I'll remove a bunch of the meat, because if there's too much then the beetles just are like, aw God, I'm done with the leopard.  

Emily: Yeah, yeah.

Anna: I'm over it.  And then, and then it goes through the beetles and it comes back through here and it ends up in the collection for forever.  

Emily: Forever.  Forever and ever.  This is awesome.

Anna: Yeah, and you can see here, so this, it's not ideal, 

Emily: Yeah.

Anna: The skin is actually like, slipping.

Emily: Oh, no.  

Anna: So the skin is here, but the fur comes off.

Emily: Yeah.

Anna: This means that its starting to decompose.

Emily: To--yeah.  You don't like that.

Anna: Which isn't, which isn't great, um, but it was in the freezer for a really long time.  

Emily: I've had that problem.  I get that.  Are those gonads?  What is this right there?  Oh, that's the top of the femur--

Anna: Yeah.

Emily: --coming out of the pelvis, okay.  

Anna: The gonads are long gone.

Emily: I was gonna say, I mean, yeah, you know, snow leopard gonads are a popular commodity.

(The Brain Scoop endscreen plays)

Emily: It still has brains on it.