The Chicago cougar and more from the bug room

April 14, 2011

 

In the latest episode, we took you behind the scenes at the Field Museum where Dermestid beetles and their larvae chew the flesh off of animal specimens, leaving only the skeletons behind.  After observing the beetles at work, we were able to view the collections where all of the skins and skeletons are stored (check out the slideshow above). Besides the pelt of a giant flying squirrel and the jaw of an elephant, one of the most interesting things we saw was the skull of a cougar that had been picked clean by the beetles.

Three years ago today, Chicago Police shot and killed a cougar in the City’s Roscoe Village neighborhood. After the investigation, the body was handed off to the Field Museum to be preserved.  As Collection Manager Bill Stanley explains in this clip, there are many ways this specimen can be useful to scientists.