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Wherein I suggest ways to gain superpowers.

Stuffed Animals & Pickled Heads, by Asma:

Dry Storeroom No. 1, by Fortey:

Still Life, by Milgrom:

The Authentic Animal, by Madden:

Pioneer Naturalists, by Evans:

Mr. Hornaday's War, by Bechtel:

The Breathless Zoo, by Poliquin:



The Brain Scoop is written and hosted by:
Emily Graslie

Executive Producer:
Hank Green (

Directed, Edited, and Scored by:
Michael Aranda (

This video features music by:
Incompetech (

Transcripts provided by Deanna Mavis, Martina Šafusová, Ann-K. Baumbach, Tony Chu, Rosa McGuire, Gaia Zaffaroni, Seth Bergenholtz, and João Henrique Diniz! Thank you so much!


Hey! We're going to talk about some books that I read. I get a lot of questions about, "Hey, Emily, what are you reading right now?" and, "How do you know all of this?" and, "Oh my god, you're really smart!" And thank you very much, but I, uh, obviously didn't learn all of this information materializing out of the air, um, I had to read it. So, let's go through a stack of books; these are the books that I have read to get the information for this channel and I'll probably be referencing them in the future and I encourage you all to pick them up and read them and buy them and love them if you think that they sound interesting.

 Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads

This book is called Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: The Culture and Evolution of the Natural History Museum and it's written by Stephen T. Asma, who was actually a philosopher, he's a philosophy professor, which is awesome. This book is hilarious and awesome, and it details, you know, why we stuff things and how that kind of stuffing process is done.

 Dry Storeroom #1

This book is one of my favorite books, it is seriously one of the most informative things I've ever read in my life. It is called Dry Storeroom #1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum written by Richard Fortey, and when they talk about "the natural history museum" they are referring to THE natural history museum that is in England, which is one of the oldest and largest and most diverse natural history museums in the existence of the world.
And Richard Fortey's just plainly a genius. So this book is obviously one that you want to pick up and read if you have questions about what kind of departments are in natural history museums. It talks about some plants and minerals and invertebrates and vertebrates and birds and the kind of racist things we don't have on display anymore because they are racist.

 Still Life

This is Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy by Melissa Milgrom and if I had to narrow down some of my top 10 favorite books ever this would probably be in the top 5 because, just, judge a book by its cover. This book is awesome. It goes into detail about things like the world of taxidermy championship... that's a thing. And it's not like they're racing, you know, taxidermied animals around in a circle or something... it's not like that, but it is like the Super Bowl of the world of taxidermy. And I wanna go to it someday.

 Pioneer Naturalists

Pioneer Naturalists: The Discovery and Naming of North American Plants and Animals by Howard Ensign Evans and although this book is currently out of print, it is one of the most informative things I've ever read in my life because if you're wondering who the Douglas-fir is named after, it talks about David Douglas in here. He died after falling into a trap that was set to capture a loose bull because apparently he had been caught sleeping with a farmer's wife... in Hawaii. 

 The Authentic Animal

This is The Authentic Animal: Inside the Odd and Obsessive World of Taxidermy and it's written by Dave Madden. This book starts off detailing a lot of the work by Carl Akeley, who is arguably the father of modern taxidermy today and the one responsible for creating the animals that go into the dioramas at the American Natural History Museum in New York. So this book has a lot of significance because it details who this person was and how they got started and things like... that's about it.

 Mr. Hornaday's War

Oh, I don't have a cover for this one. This is Mr. Hornaday's War: How a-- shhhhh-- Peculiar Victorian Zookeeper Waged a Lovely Crusade for Wildlife that Changed the World. This is written Stefan Bechtel and this is another one of my top 10 favorite books in the world. I kind of have a personal allegiance to William Temple Hornaday, who was kind of a controversial figure in the history of taxidermy and zoology but nevertheless a very significant one. We have some of his specimens in our collection today including the group of American bison that were procured from Montana in 1886 that later went on display at the National Natural History Museum in Washington D.C. and inevitably were the spark for the fire that saved the American bison from inevitable extinction. So Stefan Bechtel goes into great detail about Hornaday and how he did all that. And there is a little bit of a mention about how he put a pygmy person from The Congo on display in a zoo with a primate exhibit in order to highlight evolution and that makes Hornaday not so cool, but remember it was like 1913  and... things were different?

 The Breathless Zoo

This is The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy â€‹and the Cultures of Longing written by Rachel Poliquin. And this book, more than any of the other ones, goes into greatest detail about the history of taxidermy on a global scale. This book also goes into great detail about Walter Potter, who is one of my favorite characters from taxidermy history. Walter Potter actually made little dioramas using bunnies and kittens doing anthropomorphic things. Like, he made a kitty tea party; there's a tea party of taxidermied kittens, about twenty of them, and some of them are playing croquet on the side. And the rest of them are drinking tea. He also did the kitten wedding that has like twenty attendants, and Rachel Poliquin talks about that in her book and a lot of other really fascinating things about taxidermy and the history of animal preservation. So, thank you, Rachel Poliquin, you're super cool, we should hang out sometime.


So, if you guys really need something to read and you wanna read about taxidermy and you wanna learn things and you wanna gain some awesome super powers, I recommend checking out any one of these books -- they're some of my favorites. This has been an episode of the Brain Scoop, my name is Emily, make sure you subscribe and thanks for watching.

(Outro and credits)

... It still has brains on it.