Yum! Video Of Flesh Eating Beetles Museums "Hire" To Pick Bones Clean

| 14 Oct 2015 15:20

UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology uses a species of flesh-eating beetle to help it pick the bones of specimens clean.

I think it's fair to say the following video might make you lose your appetite - but don't worry, because a peculiar species of beetle has enough appetite for the both of you.

These little guys are dermestid beetles, and the stars of the video are descendants of those used at UC Berkeley in the 1920s, where this technique was pioneered. It seems that getting a skeleton clean without damaging its most fragile pieces was a bit too difficult for human hands - and that's where insects come in. They are "fast and fastidious," as the video says - they eat everything, they eat quickly, and they don't damage any bits the museum wants to keep.

I'd like to hear more about the scenario brought up in the video: what do you say to people when these get loose? "I'm sorry, but this section of the museum is closed off. We have a very minor infestation of flesh-eating beetles. Move along, nothing to see here..."

I have a tangentially related question I want to put to Escapist readers. At what point does a zombie become a skeleton? If you've got an animated skeleton, but it has a few ounces of flesh hanging loose off its frame, is that a zombie? What about, say, ten pounds worth? Where do we draw the line?!


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