Monday, September 24, 2012

dissecting a snake

I am doing a little of catching up on things I didn't get a chance to share this summer.  We have a young friend who saved his money and spent it on a snake, ready for dissection, and a set of dissecting tools, and he decided to share with us!! Very generous.  So, out to the farm we went.

Unlike the cow's eye dissection we did with these friends earlier in the year, the snake did not come with a dissection guide, so we were making it up a bit, using books from the library and some information from the internet.  I did find myself wishing for a better guide, as the anatomy of the snake was not immediately obvious to me, so there was some guess work.

We had all held a snake at some point, but being able to take the time to examine and compare the scales on both sides of the body was really interesting.  Everyone had a chance to do some actual dissecting...

...and we worked together to try and figure out what was what.  Some of the snake's organs (like the lungs) lie one in front of the other, instead of side-by-side as they do in our bodies.  Looking at its head was fascinating - the very sharp backward-facing teeth, the extendable trachea (so it can breathe while it eats), the Jacobson's organs, glands that help the snake smell.  

I am grateful for these opportunities to do these things when the kids are interested.  Eliza was a little uncomfortable about how it smelled and felt on her hands - it was worse than the cow's eye in terms of amount of formalin used, and it was so nice to be able to do it outside.  Ani was in her element, exploring and figuring...

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