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Kids ask the darndest things.


The Brain Scoop is written and hosted by:
Emily Graslie

Executive Producer:
Hank Green (

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

Mandolin Mad Skillz:
Henry Reich (

Huge special awesome thanks to Ms. Bianco and her 4th grade class for their help in creating this episode!

And last but definitely not least, thanks to Martina Šafusová, Diana Raynes, Katerina Idrik, Lorena Pimentel Villaça, Gerda van Mierlo, Tony Chu, Barbara Velázquez, Seth Bergenholtz, and Kelleen Browning for helping with transcriptions for this video!

Welcome to a special edition of The Brain Scoop where we're going to answer some questions from our friends at Matoska International School in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.  Hold on to your horses, because this is going to be A-NEIGH-ZING!

 What is the most popular animal to be stuffed? (0:19)

--June, age 10

We have a lot of squirrels and chipmunks; we have hundreds of them.  This is because they're really easy to find out here in Montana.  The biology classes here even used to require that the students collect them, and you know what I always say, "You can never have too many squirrels."

 What do they stuff in the animals? (0:35)

--Lynette, age 10

In the old days, the people who stuffed animals were the same people who stuffed couches and chairs.  They used everything from straw, hay, cotton, wire, twigs, even metal.  They also used nasty chemicals like arsenic and mercury in order to help protect the animals from bugs, kind of like how you would use bug spray when you're camping, but a little more deadly.

These days, we use natural cotton stuffing, wire, and these long wooden sticks called dowels.  Sometimes we even use big pieces of foam that are already shaped like the animal we're trying to stuff.

 How do you find the animals?  Do people call you, or something? (1:07)

--Emily, age 9

Sometimes when people are out driving around, they'll see a dead deer or bear and they'll call me up and ask if I want it.  Sometimes local hunters will even donate a part of an animal that they don't want, like these elk feet.  We also find a lot of dead birds underneath windows, because the birds try to fly through the glass.  Poor birds.

 How is the skeleton formed? (1:28)

--May, age 10

Before you're born, when you're still in your mom's belly, your skeleton is made out of cartilage.  Cartilage is the stuff in your nose and in your ears, and it's pretty sturdy but it's still kind of rubbery and bendy.  Over time, your cartilage skeleton begins to collect minerals which hardens the cartilage into bone.  If you want to sound really smart, this process is called ossification.

 What's inside an animal bone? (1:51)

--Tyler, age 10

Bones are filled with this spongy stuff called marrow.  Marrow is some of the most important in an animal's body.  You can think of it like a blood factory; it's where all the blood gets made, and without the blood there would be nothing to carry oxygen from the lungs to all the other cells in an animal's body.  Humans are animals too, you know, so it works the same way in your body as well.

 How are animals' organs different? (2:11)

--Skye, age 10

It depends on the animal.  For example, horses have huge lungs so that they can keep breathing while they're running.  And some whales are so large that they have hearts the size of cars.

A snake's organs are specially adapted to run along the inside of its body.  For example, they have one very small lung and one very large lung that's so long that it runs almost half the length of its entire body.

The cow has a special stomach that's split up into four chambers to help it digest all of that grass.  Strangely, one animal that has organs that are very similar to ours is actually the pig.

 How are animals born? (2:42)

--Derrick, age 9

Well, different animals give birth in different ways.  Some animals are born from eggs, like reptiles and birds and even a couple of mammals.  The mother lays an egg and either sits on it or buries it in order to keep it warm and protected while the baby forms inside.  When the baby's ready, it bursts its way out of the shell.

Other animals give birth to live young, meaning that the baby is growing inside of the mother and is popped out when it's ready.  Most mammals are born like this, including you and me.

There are even weirder ways to give birth too.  Amphibians lay eggs, but the eggs don't really hatch; they just grow into tadpoles which later grow into adults, like a frog or a salamander.

 Where do you take the animals when you are done? (3:19)

--Lila, age 9

The animals usually don't go anywhere; they stay right here in the museum.  Usually...

[Video of Soon Raccoon sneaking through Emily's apartment]

 Do you have a big truck to carry all the animals?  And how many animals can fit in the truck? (3:35)

--Emily, age 9

Unfortunately, we don't have a Brain Scoop truck.  Maybe you could design one for us!  You can send your Brain Scoop truck pictures to

 Acknowledgements and Closing (3:51)

A big thanks to Ms. Bianco's fourth grade class for the questions, and this has been an episode of The Brain Scoop.

[Outro Music] still has brains on it.