What is dissection? For some the procedure has solved some of the mysteries of life, for others it was simply disgusting and cruel. But by definition, dissection is the observing or cutting into a dead animal for the purposes of learning anatomy or physiology. There are also many other questions that students and others may have about dissection. There are many arguments as to whether it is necessary for education or inhumane and this act should stop completely. Through my research I have found that it is both necessary and it can be inhumane. However an alternative should always be available for the student unwilling to dissect and at no expense to their grade.
Many advances in medicine and in the understanding of how organisms function have been the direct result of animal dissection. But then you have animal cruelty on the other side. Then again we are dissecting a dead animal. It’s all a matter of believing what is right.
Fetal pigs are thought to have structures relatively similar to those of humans and the fetal pig also has some of the specialized structures the human fetus has. So that is a plus for the student to see real organs like their own. Of course students would rather have the experience of observing real structures rather than just a bunch of pictures. Students also get the experience of dissecting, which is a skill they will probably need in high level classes (like IB Biology) and may also need if they go on to the health science professions. The other interesting thing about animal dissection is in observing the many specimens in a single classroom, students can see the variability between individuals, something not experienced from pictures of perfect specimens. Dissection can be used to determine causes of death, or to research diseases and could definitely inspire someone to pursue a medical or scientific career. Medical students can practice operation procedures. Learn by doing!! Let’s face it there is no substitute for actual hands on experience.
And with every Pro there is always a Con to every side. The con in dissection only expands a certain limit! It all depends on your own moral, ethical or religious issues. Also the benefit from the dissection depends on the seriousness of the students performing them, which can also vary enormously. Again we are talking about school here. And the last thing teenagers want to actually work. Some do but a lot of them go to classes because it’s mandatory or they come and follow through the dissection just to have a picture of them and the specimen on Facebook. Some students and even teachers wonder, “Where do these animals we are dissecting come from?” They come from a many number of sources and not all of them legit. Some come from the wild or breeding facilities. Others come from slaughterhouse as “by-products”, like fetal pigs from the pregnant mother.
Some specimens like minks, foxes and rabbits come from fur ranches. Some even come from pet stores, shelters and pounds. Unluckily for some animals they will be stolen by Class B dealers who get the specimens from “random sources” in which many of them are companion animals. Most of the time, these animals suffer inhumane confinement and transport and finally killed by means of gassing, neck snapping and other “inexpensive” methods. Many of the cats that are dissected come from other countries, namely Mexico where they are drowned or their throats are slit and sent to the states to be distributed. A considerable amount of investigation into biological supply companies have found that they practice very shady actions in regards to preparing biological specimens for dissecting. Mainly, the animals are not always dead before they are embalmed. Students also question what happens to them once they are harvested or captured. Amphibians and reptiles often suffocate or are crushed during transportation.
Finally, just a quick opinion from an IB Biology Student… It was a great experience to have received the incredible chance to dissect a specimen. I personally have nothing against dissection but I can see why people would…especially with all those animal cruelty and protest going around for animal testing and what not. I can confidently say that I was inspired once again to pursue a career in medicine. After a long year of IB, I thought I couldn’t do it anymore but after being exposed to this experience…I still have hope and desire to become a doctor one day! And thanks to my biology teacher for taking the time and making this whole experience possible!