Image: Ornithology spirit specimens

Ornithology spirit specimens

When specimens are prepared as study skins or mounts, most of the animal's body is lost. In order to study internal anatomy, sometimes whole carcasses are injected with a preservative and stored in alcohol.

Spirit specimens, such as these White-marked Forest Honeyeaters Meliphaga montana, are not suitable for the study of plumage colour as much of the colour is altered by the preserving fluids.  However, they are ideal for examination of internal anatomy.  The bodies are preserved with 10% formalin and stored in 70% ethanol.

Stomach contents may also be retained in ethanol to find out what birds have eaten.


Jaynia Sladek
© Australian Museum
Ornithology Wet Collection

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