When I was about seven or eight years old I would visit with cousins in a small Alabama town called Montevallo. Their father was professor of biology at the college in that town. As kids will do, we roamed the town and campus and explored unhindered.
My favorite adventure was on a quiet Saturday or Sunday to investigate the biology lab and storage room. Boy, was I fascinated, and decided then and there that one day I would go to a college so I could see and do “that” too. I wasn’t sure what “that” was, but the older cousin, who had quite an imagination, told fascinating stories about what went on in the lab. Anyhow, I saw a cat, frog, fish, all sorts of invertebrates, snakes, insects, and a tiny little pig in a jar!
Moving forward ten years, I did indeed go to a college, majored in biology and finally saw, dissected and collected much of what I had seen in that lab as a child — and then some. But one specimen was missing; I never had the opportunity to dissect the fetal pig. A large snapping turtle — whose carapace had to be sawed off — but no pig.
After teaching for a few years I was able to do further study at UNC, Chapel Hill. One day the professor said that the best way for us to study comparative anatomy and physiology of systems was to work on a variety of animals including the fetal pig. The pig! Twenty years later.
Illustration By Catherine Jones NightSquidStudios.com