The “Animals Inside Out Exhibit”
Having visited the “Bodies” exhibit in Atlanta last year, when we saw that “Animals Inside Out” was currently in Dallas we figured it would be an interesting activity for a day off. Dr. Gunther von Hagens and Dr. Angelina Whalley created the exhibit to boost appreciation for the animal kingdom and our world as a whole. All the animals used in the exhibit died of natural causes and were donated by university veterinary programs, zoos and animal groups. The human specimens were donated via the Institution of Plastination’s body donation program.
The process of Plastination is a great tool for preserving a body for educational and instructional purposes. Basically, the specimen is embalmed and the water and fat are removed. Next, the specimen is injected with a type of silicon rubber using a vacuum chamber. Then the body is placed into the desired position and cured or hardened to keep its shape.
We saw amazing dissections of animals with a camel, bull and giraffe being highlights. The camel died of natural causes while pregnant, nearly full-term. The baby was on display next to its mother. While it was kind of sad, it was amazing to see how the baby would have fit folded up tight inside its mother. The musculature of the bull was incredible; they are truly powerful beasts. As for the giraffe,the way all of the organs and systems stretched out into that overwhelming size was fascinating. Did you know that the giraffe has the same number of vertebrae in its neck as we do? They are just WAY bigger!
Another section of the exhibit was geared toward the vascular system. In order to achieve this, a plastic was pumped through the arteries then the rest of the body tissues were removed. In most of the specimens only the major arteries were shown but in a few, like the horse head below, the capillaries were also preserved. This shows just how much blood is being moved to each individual cell. The horse head looks almost velvety!
Throughout the exhibit there were also extremely thin dissections of animals framed on the wall. These were able to show minute details of the inside of the animal. Each slide was accompanied by a diagram pointing out the different organs that were shown. It’s extraordinary that we have tools today that are so precise as to slice a body so thin it is nearly transparent, yet preserve all the details of its structure.
“Animals Inside Out” is a traveling exhibit and will be at the Dallas Perot Museum of Nature and Science until February 17, 2014. Tickets cost $27 per person and includes general admission to the permanent exhibits as well.