CLOSE
Original image

The Turkey Anatomy Lesson

Original image

In the proud tradition of our upcoming "Mental Floss Presents: Medical School in a Box," my husband and I are proud to present "What We Did With Our Thanksgiving Leftovers," or, "The Turkey Anatomy Lesson." For the sake of the squeamish, most of the pictures are after the jump.

Here you see the turkey after the major surgical incision to open its belly. In medicine (right), this is known as a laparotomy. In the kitchen (left), it is known as "let's stuff that thing."

backbone.jpgThis is the turkey's backbone. The fibers you see are ganglia and nerves running down the "sympathetic trunk," alongside the thoracic spine -- when you get the fight-or-flight urge, this system is the reason why. If you have chronically sweaty palms ("hyperhidrosis palmaris," in the literature), surgeons can sever those nerves in what's called a "sympathectomy." I somehow doubt that turkeys get sweaty palms, though, so let's move on.

Check after the jump for the spinal cord, liver, diaphragm, and heart.

IMG_0985.jpg
Here's the lumbar spine again, this time viewed in cross section. The white thing at the end of the knife is the spinal cord. The gray matter at its center is nerve cell bodies, while the surrounding white matter is made of axons. They're white because they're oozing with myelin, a cholesterol derivative, which helps in conducting nerve impulses.

diaphragm.jpgThis beauty is the diaphragm (at least we think it's the diaphragm), actually, this looks like the human diaphragm but is apparently the gizzard, which the turkey uses to grind up food.
liver.jpgIf they made foie gras from turkeys, this would be a delicacy -- it's the liver. The hubby says the white bit at the end of the knife is the vena cava, the body's largest vein. This is an exceptionally bad place to be injured because it's hard for surgeons to get control of the bleeding -- the liver gets in the way.

heart1.jpgDing ding ding! Finally we get to the heart. This is the left ventricle opened up, with the atrioventricular valve shown at the top. The sinewy fibers all around it are chordae tendinae, which anchor the heart valves to the papillary muscles.

heart2.jpgHere you can see the thick wall of the left ventricle, which is so massive because its job is to push the blood all the way around the body. The right ventricle is comparatively wimpy, because (at least in humans) all it has to do is get blood through the lungs and back to the heart.

heart3.jpgThe top of the heart (at right) is called the base, and the bottom is called the apex -- this is because the heart is shaped like an upside-down triangle. If you squint really hard you may also be able to see the dark coronary arteries on the surface of the heart muscle. Also, ew! That white stuff on the top of the heart is fat.

Having eaten the turkey, we are also now quite fat, and thus we have concluded that the operation was a success.

Original image
FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images
arrow
Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
Original image
FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

Original image
Courtesy Murdoch University
arrow
Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
Original image
Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios