Something is Rotten in the Dissection Lab

Written by Christine Gill

Dissection is the procedure of taking apart of a dead animal or plant for the purpose of educational inquiry. It is a common activity in advanced classes. For many students, dissection is an exciting lesson–hands on experience with scalpels, rubber gloves, real animal tissue, and the smell of formaldehyde. Last week, the dissection of dog sharks revealed that science can be a very messy process.

In Ms. V’s 7th hour AP Bio class, we dissected the spiny dogfish shark. These sharks came in gooey plastic bags and smelled of dead fish (duh). After being presented with the option to choose between male sharks, female sharks, and pregnant female sharks, my trusty lab partner and I decided that a pregnant female shark would be the most engaging.

We began the lab, only to recognize an even more putrid smell once opening the shark up fully. After what seemed like an eternity of searching for the baby sharks, we finally called Ms. V over for help. Upon a thorough examination, Ms. V opened up a small sac, which should have held the unborn sharks. However, to our dismay, an orange goo–that of a similar texture to applesauce–oozed out of the sac. EW!! Now, I’m sure you’re starting to figure this out, but if not… Our shark was actually rotten. So rotten, in fact, that the insides were literally falling apart. How gross is that?!

While we did not get to see our own shark’s babies, our friends a lab table over were kind enough to share their babies for a great photo-op!


About the author

Christine Gill