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Wherein we take the insides and move them outside.


The Brain Scoop is written and hosted by:
Emily Graslie

Created By:
Hank Green

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

Special thanks to Liz Bradley for the wolf, and James Goerz for his volunteer help with the process!

Thanks to Martina Šafusová, Deanna Mavis, Luca Vittone, Tony Chu, João Henrique Diniz, Wouter Koenders, Nur Iskandar bin Nuruddin, Andrés García Molero, and Seth Bergenholtz for providing transcriptions for this video! You bring sunshine to the world!

Emily: This is day two of the wolf prep. Um, this is the wolf that we got, it was hit by a car. The reason we moved him underneath the fume hood today is because he's got a little bit of gas in here. I got this scalpel and we're gonna try and release the gases today. And hope that I don't vomit.

Okay. Oh my god. Oh, I've never done anything like this before. (exhales) Here we go. Okay, it's in the body. Yeah, you can hear the gases being released. I can't smell anything yet. So he's starting to deflate a little bit. I don't know. Did that do it? Was that it? That was a little anticlimactic! I can't smell anything. I can't— I could… I think we're good. Woo!

You're gonna have to grab the tray. 

James: I gotta grab his head too, though. 

Emily: You can let the head hang.

James: I wish I had three arms.

Emily: Okay. Here we go. Ugh. He still smells.

James: Oh god.

Emily: Oh, there we go. Oh my god! I don't -- I don't wanna do this, you guys!

I think it's worse when you like lift him up. I think it's, like, in his groin areas where this is bad. Maybe I should've made another cut down there. 'Cause you can see on here, all of his guts are just like, gravity is pulling them down there. Oh, man. Oh. That's ripe. That is rich. Well. (Gags) Oh. Where should we start? I mean if you throw up at this point you'll probably throw up in your face mask, but… Just keep our barf bags handy.

We don't have enough space to store his entire body in a freezer as a whole unit, so we're gonna remove his head, we're gonna cut off the limbs, scapula, humerus down, remove the legs which I think might be the worst bit of it. So let's start with the head. And work towards the gross.

Okay, so you have C1 and C2, they're called the atlas and the axis. You think about it this way, is the, um, atlas, you know, supports the world a.k.a. the head on his shoulders, and the axis is what the world turns on. So it's an easy way to remember those two. Atlas, axis, and then you have about 5 other ones, that connect to the, uh, thoracic and then the lumbar vertebrae. So I'm just gonna, kinda guesstimate where that last, that last cervical is and cut into the muscle while we cut his head off. You can see these different muscle layers in here, too; there's a layer of muscle, little bit of fat, more muscle down here. It has this metallic-y shine between the layers.

You could hold his head up, that'd be nice. Woo! There we go. His throat. We just cut through the throat. This is, uh, all cartilage. And you can see bile. There's a little bit of bile matter in there. It's on my finger. And there's blood in here, too. Probably coming up from his bowels. Or his stomach from the, you know, from when he sustained an injury, but it just looks like a pipe, it's like a whistle. Not that I wanna put my mouth on it and blow across it.

Now I'm just hitting the bone. I would ideally like to cut between two of the vertebrae, but it might be kinda hard to find where they start and end. I can feel the, um, shoot, what is that called, the dorsal spine of one of them, that's the top of the vertebrae.

Can you move his head maybe up and down? The other way, like side to side I guess it would be. Oh, there we go. Okay. So when James did that, I could see where, um, two of the vertebrae were occluding together, so I can cut around the cartilage. It's frozen. Yeah, you heard it. You can hear, it's like cutting through ice. Oh, we're getting close. Oop, whup, there we go. So, if you look at it from this way, here is the spinal cord, here is the top of that cervical vertebrae. So this is all muscle. Look at all of the incredible amount of muscle that is on top of the vertebrae. And they extend up until about right here, the rest of this is all just muscle attachment.

Here's the throat. It's very springy. Very flexible. And, uh, it's very durable. 

James: It looks like it had rings on it.

Emily: And it does. It has these rings in it that have more connective tissue between them, so it can move kind of like an accordion. Like a spring. Like an accordion spring or something. Then it can open like that. Oh, it's cute. It looks like a bracelet or something.

How much do you think that weighs? Just estimate.

James: Um, this is probably 12 to 15 pounds.

Emily: 12 to 15 pounds.

James: Uh-huh.

Emily: With the muscle and everything. Oh yeah, this is heavy! Whoo! This is… Yeah, I mean, this is, uh, how heavy is this, this is about… a six month old right here, don't you think?

James: No kids.

Emily: Every time we move him, ugh, or shift him, it seems to like disrupt whatever is making this smell so bad,and it's being released out of that incision we made. I have a feeling, uh, it's just gonna be all fun and games for the rest of the day. You okay over there? You're doing good? Woo! Let's do this.

This is bone marrow. I guess, I mean, at this point when it's kinda cold, it's like a good, like putty-like consistency. It's pretty neat. It's like Play-Doh. I removed the forward right limb, including the scapula and the top half of the humerus. This was busted in half, you can see where it was broken there. This is kinda cool, you can see the mechanics of how these bones move together, you have the humerus and the scapula, the cartilage makes it very easy for them to move and flex together.

We're gonna throw this in the bug box to give them a little bit of something to eat. Oh. Before I do that, I should show you this, too. You know, we knew that the humerus was fractured; I did not know that the scapula has also sustained damage, so you can see where it's broken right there, and splintered, I'm able to flex this a little bit. And a lot of you guys, uh, ask about the bugs and everything and I just wanted to clarify, we don't put the entire body into the beetles. There's no way that these tiny little beetles could feasibly eat all of the muscle tissue before it rots. So this is about how clean something has to be before it goes into the beetles. You wanna remove the majority of all the muscles. This stuff that is harder to remove around the edges, that's what the beetles will go for.

This is the part I am the very most nervous about, because it seems to be that the horrible odor keeps emanating from this region. Although this is the bright green nasty part, every time we move the nether regions, we seem to get a-- a revival of the delicious rotten egg, dead bacteria smell that keeps coming off of this guy.

So we're gonna remove this, this back limb right now and hope that I don't throw up. I mean I'm gonna do my best to not cut into it unnecessarily, but I'm nervous. I'm gonna be cutting down here. I'm... oh, god. We talked about maybe having a safety word in case we needed to run. But I think the safety word will be just some of us screaming and going, "Oh my god, get out of here!" So we have blood. That's, okay.

Wow. Look at that. This is just part of the muscle, this is all of the muscle that I have cut off of the, uh, the femur so far. This is one leg. This is not even all of the muscle, this is like 3/4 of the muscle.

The patella right here, this is your knee cap, um, it's pretty small, it's just this bone right here, there's a lot of cartilage that surrounds it. And this is extremely, um, slick, it's very lubricated, the cartilage is that great material between your joints that helps everything move, um, fluidly. So, the patella sits right in there and this is the distal end of the, uh, femur. So you can see how it moves in that groove. It's called the patellar groove.

Its femur is like in the socket right there, too, and this where the, um, attaches to the… Is this the pubis or the ilium?

James: Uh, the ilium.

Emily: The ilium.

James: That's a fun sound.

Emily: That's a really fun sound. You hear that? That's the head of the femur coming in and out of the socket joint.

Ooh, got a leg! Cool. Look at that. This is the head of the femur, it is very round shaped. Compare it to the femur below, like, we can even line them up. Look at how much of that is just muscle surrounding the bone. That's awesome. Whoops! Hey, that's coming off pretty easily. I cleaned off some of the muscle that was along um, this part of the tibia and the fibula so that you could see the fibula. The lower part of the leg has two separate bones, which are the tibia and the fibula. In ungulates like deer, the fibula is either greatly reduced or it's entirely fused. Sometimes in, like, a horse, it is both fused and reduced. But with, um, like a canid, another-- I think in other predators, they have them separate. The advantage of that is muscle attachment for, um, endurance. Cool!

He's bleeding all over the place up here. Whoa, whoa, whoa! Whoa! Do you see that? That is a lot of blood. Something we did shifted all that.

James: He's laying on that incision

Emily: Oh, that's right. Oh! Oh, dear lord. We've lifted him up and it's coming all out of that incision. Ooh. Wooh. Uhh. I feel like if I just keep talking I'm not breathing, so it's okay, but every time I stop and take a breath, it's… still there. Still there! Still smellin' it.

Whoooo. That is fresh. It is like everything that we were avoiding all day all of a sudden now it's just coming out. And I just wanna get this leg off, so maybe I can run outside and get some fresh air. This smells like, it smells like the Easter egg that you hid somewhere behind a bookshelf in your house when you were a kid and then Easter was over and people forgot that you didn't pick up one of the eggs, but instead of just one egg it was like two dozen eggs. I'm removing the muscle really quickly just for simplicity sake. He's bleeding all over the place here.

Oh, god. Ooh my god. Woo! Huh.

James: Power through, power through.

Emily: Here we go, here we go. There we go! Got the leg off. Oh, man. Whoo! Should we remove the bowels today? Should we just do it? I think we should probably just do it, 'cause it'll be easier to store the rest of him anyway.

James: Yeah, maybe.

Emily: I think we should do it. This is gonna be a great episode, you guys. I might just throw up. That'll be, that'll be the fun part. You thought releasing the gas was gonna be exiting, wait until we cut this thing open and take out its intestines 'cause you're gonna see that today on the Brain Scoop!

Do you wanna maybe do this part? 'Cause, I mean, I… I trust you to do this. Because I don't know where the, where the tissues begin, I normally just open 'em up and it'll come out, but… So James is trying to find the delicate balance between the sack that holds all of the organs in and not puncturing that, so we can remove them all as one unit, so we don't have guts spilling all over the place.

Some lady just walked down the hallway and opened up a window and cast a very disgusted look into our lab.

Oooooh! Ooooooooh! That smells really awful. Oooh, boy. If we just sing a little song.

What do you call the sack?

James: It's the abdominal cavity, it's-

Emily: Oh, okay, just the abdominal.

James: Basically, there's two chambers in your, in your torso, there's the abdominal cavity which is all of your digestive organs, and your diaphragm sits above that. And your pleural cavity with your lungs...

Emily: Keep cuttin'. Keep cuttin'.

James: So we're trying to do this as cleanly as possible, and try to keep all the digestive organs, which we think are the source of that smell, which makes sense, together in this, in this sack. 'Cause if we do this, I mean it's already a mess, but if we do this right, we won't have to take out each individual digestive organ by itself.

Emily: Ugh, that is bad. Ugh. I have a pretty strong stomach, you guys. But this is one of the grosser things I've ever had to deal with. There's usually not as much mess, you know, I mean, we haven't ever worked on anything this large that has been this traumatized. Oh, whoops. You cut through it. You can see the organs in there now. We were gonna save the stomach and, uh, see what it had been eating but now I don't know if I care that much. We were gonna try to be graceful about this and just take it all out as one sack unit -- 

James: There's already too much damage.

Emily: But there's too much damage. So, you know what, why don't we cut all of this off, too. That's the fleshy stuff that keeps your organs together so they don't move around your body. 

James: This would be the stomach cavity, I would think.

Emily: Whoo, should we open it? It looks kinda bloated. I'm scared. This is gonna be scary. Whoa. It just like… blew up a little bit. Maybe you're not sharp enough? There's definitely gas coming out of that thing. Hooaaaa— source of the smell. Whoa! Oh, cool, there's fur in there! That's awesome! This is so neat! Whoa. Wow. Oh, that smells bad. This is so awesome! Wow, look, you guys! It was digesting stuff! We gotta keep this. I get a little tray. This is awesome! This is so cool, it's, there's still all the fur in there, we can see what it was eating!

Oh, there's poo. Stay away from the poo, that's the stuff that has the, uh, all the bacteria, this is sick, you guys, I need to shower.

James: This looks like liver, this is the liver right here. The intestines, the tubes, large and small intestine. This has to be... the kidney.

Emily: The kidney

James: This is... See how big the liver is. And there's a lot. That's a heavy, heavy organ.

That's really big, yeah. Significant. Hey, let's get rid of it, I don't want it.

​Oh, god. Well! That was fun. Now we have the body prepared, all the organs have been removed, hopefully we won't ever have to experience that horrific stench ever again. That was certainly a learning experience for everyone. 

(Outro and credits)

...It still has brains on it.