The Norman Transcript

Local news

January 19, 2010

VIDEO: Museum harnesses beetles to get bones inhumanly spotless

Watch Video

The Sam Noble Museum of Natural History has hired several hundred creepy crawlers to do its dirty work, harnessing these critters' otherwise pesky powers--eating dead flesh--for good.

Collections technician Larissa Busch, also known as the bug lady, reigns over the bug room, an offshoot of the museum with a separate ventilation system to avoid contamination.

Here, dead animals like raccoons and lizards--soaked in beef bouillon to tempt with flavor and tenderness--are transported in baggies to the room. The excess flesh then is washed way before the carcasses are dropped into large cases of larvae and adult hide beetles, which eat away the stray meat.

Streamlined as the integrative pest management system, the pests feed off the beef jerky textured meat, giving the bones a hefty cleaning, otherwise impossible for human hands and tools, said Linda Coldwell, public relations and marketing officer.

Coldwell admitted it sounded gross, but the eco-friendly and low maintenance process--aside from the beetles' picky table manners--doesn't damage the bones.

"They're lazy; they don't like to work through the skin," Busch said of the hardened lizard heads and the less meaty raccoon feet, which filled the room with a stench as she cleaned off the excess flesh in the sink.

"Phew, that's stinky," Coldwell said.

Bush then pulled out the next dinner course: Dead bats that took a beating from wind turbines.

"These aren't that pretty," she said.

But within the museum's love for its leggy friends, hides a sinister side, darkened by the 350 sticky traps hidden in every room of the museum to prevent a critter infestation.

"There's no way to make it insect proof. The idea is to catch them before it becomes a big problem," Busch said. "Because once they get into the collection, it's like an open buffet."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local news
  • N7 Sooners come together to serve Native American youth

    Whitney Wofford has faced some tough competition as a part of the Oklahoma tennis team. However, on Wednesday, Wofford may have taken on her biggest and most rewarding competition yet at the Sooners For N7 event at the Oklahoma football ...

    April 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • Norman High Speech and Debate Team wins state championship

    Briar White’s heart pounded in his chest as he clasped the hands of several classmates and Booker T. Washington High School was announced as the second-place finisher. White said he was elated to hear second place announced because he ...

    April 16, 2014

  • General fund continues to decline as expenses exceed anticipated revenues

    Norman’s expenses will again outstrip projected revenue in the current budget before the city council. The budget for the fiscal year that starts in July and ends June 30, 2015, projects $210,982,020 in total revenues and $213,436,778 in ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Norman students accepted to arts institute

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Forty-nine Norman high school students have been accepted to the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain, an arts academy hosted June 14-29 in southwestern Oklahoma. The Norman students were among 270 artists ...

    April 16, 2014

  • OU History of Science Department receives Sloan Foundation Grant

    The University of Oklahoma History of Science Department has received a $350,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in support of a project to build an innovative tool for collaborative research centered on the 100-year-old Isis ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Norman High, North named top schools in nation

    Norman High and Norman North have once again been identified as two of the most rigorous high schools in the state and nation. The Washington Post’s 2014 Most Challenging High Schools list, the first of annual national high school ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Oklahoma Water Survey data web portal to be demonstrated next week

    A new tool is available from the Oklahoma Water Survey, at the University of Oklahoma, for organizations in the state that collect and use water data. Oklahoma Water Survey Director Robert Puls will demonstrate Phase I of a new water data ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Norman teachers excited about professional development

    Norman Public Schools’ teachers are focused on students and want to take advantage of professional development, Beth Spears, director of Staff Development and Student Achievement, said was the overall response teachers had to a recent ...

    April 15, 2014

  • Social justice dialogue part of University of Oklahoma program

    The University of Oklahoma kicked off Justice Week with a public forum Monday titled “Luis Rodriguez: No en Vano.” Critically acclaimed author, Esmeralda Santiago discussed the “Transformative Power of Art,” while joining five panelists ...

    April 15, 2014

  • Storm scavengers now could face felony charges

    OKLAHOMA CITY— It wasn’t long after a devastating tornado hit Moore last year that scavengers were circling the wreckage. Already reeling, Moore residents had a new concern — fending off looters....

    April 15, 2014

Video
Facebook