>Yeah, Dave, what do you do when the beetles aren't doing the job you >pay
>them to do, and still need to be fed? And when they eat a fish, >what's
>left? How about scales?
If you forget to feed them for a while, the colony dies down... but that
hasn't been a problem yet ;) They don't eat scales. You can pick those off
later. They also leave fin rays (there are bony elements in most teleost fin
rays). The most difficult part of reassembling the thing is the branchial
basket/hyoid arch- they often disarticulate, leaving you with a little pile
of bones that look alike! Have fun!
When ASIH was in Seattle, we drove the lab Suburban out, collecting fish in
every state we crossed (with permits, of course!). One of the students was
working on sucker osteology, and had built a large chicken wire box which we
bungied to the top of the vehicle. When we got large suckers, we eviscerated
them and wired them onto the wire to skeletonize when we got back. The hot
dry air as we crossed the Great Basin at 65mph dried them out really nice,
and we were all really proud of what a great idea it was. Then we crossed
the Cascades, and it started to rain. They rehydrated. The slipstream blew
decomposing fish ooze all over the front of the Suburban. A cloud of flies
approximately the same size as the Suburban started following us... We'd
pull up to a stoplight, and folks in the other lane would just gape in
awe... and then speed off! They got better after we got back on the east
side of the Cascades. Most of them skeletonized great- although some of them
got a little maggot-infested, which turned the dermestids off somewhat.
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