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  • Writer's pictureSinead Mackintosh

Museums: an archive of information.

Until this year, I will admit that I did not consider museums to be more than an interesting, educative day out. However, museums contain decades worth of samples (such as bones and skins) and information. Researchers and collectors can deposit their samples in the museum, and when other researchers need that information, they can apply to use or study the samples. This is particularly useful for samples that may no longer be available in the field or for animals that have since become endangered or gone extinct. For my research project, we wanted to try to use sample skins to extract DNA from a preserved skin. The actual removal of skin and muscle tissue turned out to be quite tricky! It was basically trying to cut leather with a scapel and tweezers while trying to do as little damage as possible. We ended up with some small pieces of skin, nail, and muscle tissue from three individuals, and then I sorted through and separated the tissue types using a microscope (see picture 2).

Now the next challenge is to get decent DNA from the samples, and I hope to do that after I had in my thesis this Thursday! It would have been nice to include this step. However, as with everything else in life, time just got away from us!

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