WARNING: This blog post has pictures of dissected fetal pigs and is not recommended for the squeamish.
All pictures were taken by the wonderful Hannah Rajasekaran.
Dissection gives an opportunity to students for hands on learning to teach about body systems typically taught in a textbook.
Why Fetal Pigs?
Fetal pigs are prime species to dissect because the majority of the structures and functions found in the fetal pig are extremely similar or the same as a human. Therefore pigs provide helpful insight to human to human body systems.
How to Dissect?
After breaking into teams of 3 each group received a set of directions, questions and diagrams, and tools used to observe the pig. The group then examined a variety of systems including: digestive, respiratory, circulatory, excretory and reproductive.
My favorite part of the dissection was examining the circulatory and respiratory systems. I am in my school’s choir and almost everyday I hear about a muscle known as the diaphragm. After opening up the pig, I could finally understand what the diaphragm looked like and how the muscle behaved. Later I got to observe the lungs. Growing up I always just pictured the lungs as two big balloons sitting somewhere inside the chest. When observing Phillis (the pig) I gained a better understanding of the structure of the lungs and how the lungs sat around the heart. Lastly examining the heart was unique. I could visualize the four different chambers and observe how the structure of a pig’s heart is more efficient by separating the blood based on oxygen levels.