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Education Science

Dead Birds Do Tell Tales 21

Posted by samzenpus
from the break-me-off-a-piece-of-great-auk dept.
grrlscientist writes "While many natural history museum study skin collections have specimens that are more than 100 years old, most museum tissue collections are very recent — in fact, many were initiated during the 1980s. Due to the perishable nature of tissues, they are expensive to maintain and must be carefully managed and continually replenished. Unfortunately, funding shortages and other considerations have made it more difficult for museums to collect animals as often as they did in the past. Therefore, tissues from both wild and captive animals are limited, particularly those from rare and difficult-to-collect animals, such as lories."
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Dead Birds Do Tell Tales

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  • by HisOmniscience (1361001) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @03:18AM (#27515193)
    It seems kinda obvious that long term storage of tissue samples is hard.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

      It was submitted by a "grrlscientist", so they auto-approve it. They can't afford to miss the chance of getting a tissue sample by rejecting stories with no point.

      • by Smivs (1197859)

        Let's hope that "grrlscientist" isn't the dead bird in question. It's just the prose that's a bit unwell.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Although grrlscientist's interest in the discussion of dead birds was really to figure out which ones tasted better when barbecued.

    • by mewsenews (251487)

      It's an anecdote about a mysterious bird skin that the author was able to track not just to the original breeder but also to the facility the bird was donated to, who turned out to have a tissue sample that the researcher will be able to add to her database.

      I suspect the reason she wrote about it is because successfully tracking the provenance of a skin might be an uncommon thing and the researcher would've had to "eye-ball" the skin for classification. Instead, she came out of it with a full history of the

    • You missed the point entirely.

      1. Long-term tissue storage is hard.
      2. Therefore we rely on short-term storage with frequent replenishment.
      3. Replenishment is expensive, and problematic for rare species.
      4. This is a low-priority item for funding.
      5. We're gonna run out of bird skins to study if we don't do something.
      6. Jim Carrey wore chicken skin on his face in "The Cable Guy".
      7. If we replicate Jim Carrey, we can increase our supply of bird skins.
      8. But if we replicate Jim Carrey, the world will become a du
  • Huh, (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I thought England had plenty of lorries.
  • by evolx10 (679412)
    "While many natural history museum study skin collections have specimens that are more than 100 years old, most museum tissue collections are very recent"
    what in the hell does this even mean?.. Do museums study their own skin collections?

    For fucks sake make more sense i dare you!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

      You aren't parsing correctly.

      natural history museum study skin collections

      "Study skin" == skins meant for studying.
      "study skin collections" == collections of skins meant for studying.
      "natural history museum study skin collections" == collections of skins meant for studying owned by natural history museum.

  • So what? Why do I care, exactly?

    • by thedrx (1139811)
      Archival of animal tissue could be useful. As an example, a few years ago, some researchers have attempted to clone the extinct Tasmanian Tiger [wikipedia.org], but the attempt failed due to the DNA samples being too degraded. Had they been better stored, they wouldn't have degraded so much. The animals that we can see today might be extinct tomorrow, hence the importance of archival.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by SnarfQuest (469614)

        Our museum needs 6 lorax skins for its archives. We have found the last 4 known living specimens, and have dutifully skinned them, but we still need 2 more. Any help will be appreciated.

  • Unfortunately, funding shortages and other considerations have made it more difficult for museums to collect animals as often as they did in the past.

    YOU CAN'T CUT BACK ON FUNDING, YOU WILL REGRET THIS!

  • by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Thursday April 09, 2009 @11:32AM (#27519959) Homepage
    I just wondered if there's a slashdot achievement for posting in worst story ever (in before Jon Katz new here etc).

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